Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has blamed extremists for violent anti-migrant protests that erupted on the weekend in the Russian capital’s south after a peaceful gathering of Moscow residents to demand punishment for a young man’s killer spiraled out of control.

“Extremist elements who arrived at the so-called ‘popular gathering’ took part in the events,” Sobyanin told the Kommersant-Vlast magazine. He added that ordinary participants of the meeting had not taken part in violent actions.

A young resident of the Biryulyovo neighborhood was fatally stabbed early on October 10 near the entrance to his apartment block. Hundreds of protesters were detained by police overnight Sunday and on Monday in Biryulyovo. Around 70 people have to date been charged with minor administrative offenses.

The suspected killer, identified as Orkhan Zeinalov, from Azerbaijan, was apprehended by police special forces in the city of Kolomna, some 120 kilometers southwest of Moscow on Tuesday, and was flown to Moscow in a helicopter.

On Monday, more than a thousand people, most of them reportedly labor migrants based in or around Biryulyovo, were detained. The round-up seemed to be a response to anti-migrant sentiment.

First published by RIA Novosti