MOSCOW, July 31 (R-Sport) – Russian authorities investigating the death of a Kyrgyz man must not be swayed by a powerful campaign to exonerate one of the suspects, a former top-flight Russian footballer, the Kyrgyz Embassy in Moscow said on Wednesday.
Ex-Torpedo Moscow defender Mikhail Rekudanov, 28, has enjoyed a wave of support since being arrested over the killing of the unnamed 23-year-old man, who died of multiple stabs wounds in a brawl in the Russian capital in May.
"Bearing in mind the concern of the (Kyrgyz) diaspora in Russia in relation to a campaign on social networks in support of the footballer Mikhail Rekudanov ... the embassy has contacted the law-enforcement organs of Russia requesting an objective and dispassionate investigation," the embassy said in a statement.
Rekudanov is in police custody after turning himself in on July 8, but it is not clear if he has been charged.
The incident occurred on May 23 in northern Moscow, where Rekudanov and his friends got into a fight with a group of youths from the Central Asian republic, investigators have said.
A statement on the website of Zapad 5, a Torpedo hardcore fan club, claimed Rekudanov was defending his group from "foreign bandits who attacked them." It urged visitors to the website to donate money for a lawyer and to support his parents, noting his mother is a pensioner and his father disabled.
Spartak Moscow fan club Fratria has also offered to collect money for the family.
As a player, Rekudanov spent most of his career in the lower divisions of Russian football but scored twice in 26 games during a yearlong Premier League loan spell with Torpedo Moscow in 2010.
In Russia, murder carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Ethnic tensions are perpetually simmering in Russia, where nationalist sentiment runs high and social problems frequently blamed on work-seeking immigrants from Central Asian nations.