Russian police arrested a number of young men belonging to an undefined "non-traditional Islamic group" on suspicion of arson attacks in November against Christian churches in the autonomous republic of Tatarstan, Russian agency Ria Novosti reported, citing local police.
of men, aged 22 to 35, allegedly set two Orthodox churches on fire in
mid-November using Molotov cocktails, the Interior Ministry said in a
wooden church in the village of Lenino was completely destroyed, whilst in the
second case a guard managed to put out a fire in a church in the town of
Chistopol, the ministry said.
a predominantly Muslim republic, Tatarstan has never had any major problems with
a total of seven churches suffered arson attacks this year. Nothing like it occurred
General's Office pointed the finger at "unidentified extremists" who now
could get up to 20 years in prison.
religious authorities have also come under attack.
Last year, the republic's the
most senior Muslim cleric survived an assassination attempt, which the
authorities blamed on radical groups from the North Caucasus.