Schoolboy protestors were easily controlled by police at the weekend, but there are fears that the youngsters are being used as guinea pigs to test the authorities tactics during the current stand-off.
With Moscow’s police on heightened alert after riots on Dec. 11, and further clashes during the week, Saturday saw almost 1200 detentions across Moscow.
But according to a nationalist website the failure of the Ostankino rally, where more than 100 people were arrested, most of them minors, was merely a trial run.
And Kommersant quoted one of the demonstrators saying: “Everyone ran away because it was just a group of kids acting on their own.
“The adults are waiting for the moment when they see how the government is responding; the teenagers are eager to fight for themselves even if they don’t really understand why,” said one of the coordinators, said to be a student in Moscow.
A Moscow police spokesman acknowledged that many of those detained in Ostankino park were “boys and girls in eighth to tenth grade”, and added that they were collected by their parents from the police station.
Back to Manezhnaya
Around Manezhnaya, the epicentre of the rioting from the previous week, police were also clamping down on anyone who looked suspicious – whether nationalist or Caucasian.
But the enhanced presence hasn’t stopped nationalists plotting a repeat of the Dec. 11 violence.
A planned gathering under the slogan “Screw the Caucasus” is scheduled for 3 pm on Dec. 25.
And the website organising the rally insists that it will be more successful than the previous attempt because it will attract “more people who are calling for the abolition of censorship”.
Disturbances were not limited to Moscow, with more than 800 people detained at protests in the Moscow Region towns of Chekhov, Ramenskoye, Voskresensk and Pushkin.
In Samara about 100 youngsters were detained after attempting to stage a riot, while about a third of the 200 people arrested in Volgograd turned out to be high school students, Kommersant reported.
While the threat of major disturbances was prevented, with police using the same tactics which largely calmed Moscow on Wednesday evening, there was still isolated violence.
In south-east Moscow a 17-year-old newcomer from Central Asia was hospitalised with stab wounds to the chest, face, hands and feet, Interfax reported.
Before surgery he told the police that he was attacked by a group of young men who rushed him with cries of “Russia for Russians”.
And a Chechen resident, aged 19, was arrested outside Kievsky Railway Station after he attacked a policeman.
He was stopped and searched, and struck out at a female police major after officers attempted to confiscate his traumatic pistol.
Nashi and nationalists
Levon Arzoumanyan, a Nashi activist in the Sochi branch, has been identified by bloggers as one of the participants of Wednesday’s unrest – which some have claimed was staged by the government to boost the police’s reputation after the Manezhnaya riots.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that the pro-Kremlin youth activist had even posted a photo of himself being led away by riot police on his own social network page.
Ironically for a supporter of a march calling for “Russia for Russians”, Arzoumanyan has an Armenian surname.
Earlier another Nashi activist, Tambov’s Nikolai Makarov, was identified as a participant in the disturbances but he later denied this on his Facebook page.