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MMA fighter at the heart of Russian protests

You know we’re typically pretty half-ass about reporting interesting prospects moving up from the minors. If you want a nice complete list of dudes to keep your eye on, check out Smoogy’s scouting report on Bloody Elbow and prepare to immerse yourself in several hours worth of grainy crowd-filmed footage. But we did mention Rasul ‘Black Tiger’ Mirzaev, who was set to come over from Russia to Bellator until he accidentally killed a guy in a barfight.

Now Rasul is in jail, and his case has become a political handgrenade inflaming racial tensions between Russians and the northern caucasus Russia took over that is full of people Russians hate:

When the charge was downgraded to manslaughter recently his legal representatives were finally able to ask for bail. It was granted, and Mirzaev was set to be freed from prison, where he has been since mid-2010. But immediately there was outcry from sections of the public – in particular the far-right nationalist groups which have used the Mirzaev case as a rallying cry for their members to protest against immigration from the Caucasus regions.

A protest march with the title ‘Killers Must Serve Their Time’ was organised for Moscow this week. But a day after bail was granted to Mirzaev, prosecutors appealed against the decision and were successful in having it reversed. The Russian court’s official reason was that bail had incorrectly been approved after “procedural irregularities” but it is widely believed that fear of public disorder was behind the decision.

Mirzayev’s bail had been set at R100,000 – about £2,000 or $3,300 – and that figure in itself incensed his detractors. A spokesperson for the family of the victim, 19-year-old Ivan Agafonov, said the decision meant that “now anybody can kill someone for just R100,000.”

The case has had a high profile in Russia and the former Soviet states ever since it was first reported. Immigration is a key concern of many ethnic Russians living in Russia, particularly immigration from the Caucasus states such as Dagestan and Chechnya, which were once satellite states of the Soviet Union but are now independent.

People from the Caucasus region are ethnically and somewhat culturally different to native Russians, but many are heading to Russia in search of work and money. They are free to do so, being citizens of the former union, but the welcome they receive when they get there is often decidedly frosty. This is particulary the case for Muslim immigrants such as Mirzaev.

It’s nice to know America isn’t the only country dealing with it’s own racist prejudices, but these Russians take it to the next level. This would be like accusing a Hawaiian of not really being an American. Oh wait. Okay, well then this is like America owning a country but not treating that country’s people like real Americans. Dammit. Sometimes Russians are so much like us, it’s a bit scary. We better nuke them before they nuke us. If that’s what we’re thinking, it’s probably what they’re thinking too.