MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow police had rounded up over five hundred people in the city’s marketplaces by Tuesday morning following an attack over the weekend on a police officer trying to detain a suspected sex offender at a food market.
Some 560 people have been detained in sweep checks in Moscow's southwestern district, city police said on their website Tuesday.
On Saturday, a team of police officers was attacked by a crowd of 20 to 25 people at the Matveyevsky food market in western Moscow as they were detaining a man suspected of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl.
One of the officers received serious head injuries after reportedly being hit with brass knuckles. The incident was widely reported in the Russian media after an eyewitness video of the incident went viral on social networks.
In a massive responsive to the attack, Moscow police launched an operation to check people working at city markets for complicity in crimes and offenses.
Law enforcement officials reported they had already rounded up 470 people during the raids by Tuesday morning. Most of the detained are natives of Central Asian states and Russia's North Caucasus, the police said.
The sweeping checks of market places continued, despite the fact that the suspected attacker whom the police were originally looking for, named as Magomed Rasulov, had already been detained Monday while trying to flee the capital on a bus, the police said.
Rasulov was charged on Tuesday with the attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, which carries a possible life sentence.
The same charge was applied to his wife, Khalimat, who also apparently attacked the injured policeman but had no part in the head bashing. The couple was placed under arrest Tuesday.
The attack has fueled ethnic tensions in the capital, whose marketplaces employ many migrants from post-Soviet states and representatives of ethnic minorities from Russia’s Muslim-populated North Caucasus regions.
Russia introduced a law in 2007 banning foreign nationals from working in retail markets and shops, in what the government said was a bid to clamp down on the shadow economy.
(Updates the number of people being detained; the charges against the Rasulovs.)