Russian nationalist raids target fruit stands of illegal immigrants

July 31, 2013 at 10:08 AM
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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, July 31 (UPI) -- Groups of Russian nationalists have begun "raids" on fruit vendors in St. Petersburg to expose stands staffed by foreigners without work permits, officials say.

The raiders, groups of 50 to 60 people armed with baseball bats, check the paperwork of vendors and report any inconsistencies, RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.

Nikolai Bondarik, a co-organizer of the raids, said "there's nobody to do it but us."

A radical nationalist who is a member of the Russian opposition's Coordination Council, Bondarik said people who participate in the raids are "tired of having Dushanbe [the capital of Tajikistan] in our streets."

A local news website clams raiders have used their bats to smash fruit stands. Bondarik said the bats were for self-defense.

No violence has been reported during the so-called "Russian raids," but police said they were investigating allegations the raiders obstructed lawful street trading.

An attack last week on a Moscow policeman whose skull was smashed by a marketplace vendor triggered the raids in St. Petersburg.

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