- © Photo : Alexei Dorongov
© Photo : Alexei Dorongov
MOSCOW, November 27 (R-Sport) - Former WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev has appealed for calm as the release of a former martial arts champion convicted of killing an ethnic Russian threatens to exacerbate ethnic tensions.
Rasul Mirzaev, from the North Caucasus region of Dagestan, was freed by a Moscow court on Tuesday for time already served after being sentenced to two years in prison for causing death by negligence.
Mirzaev punched student Ivan Agafonov outside a nightclub last year. Agafonov later died.
Nationalists protested outside the courtroom, sparking fears of a repeat of the race riots in downtown Moscow in 2010, which followed the fatal shooting of a football fan by a Caucasus native.
“Hysteria on ethnic grounds around the Mirzaev case has no basis. You shouldn’t fan ethnic hysteria, it’s wrong,” said Valuev, who was elected as a parliamentarian for the ruling United Russia party last year.
“Without justifying Rasul Mirzaev in any way, I also remind you that he has fully admitted his guilt and is prepared to bear the punishment the law demands for his deed.”
Lawyers for Agafonov’s family have accused the prosecutor of ignoring their interests and earlier vowed to seek harsher punishment for Mirzaev at the European Court of Human Rights if he were to be convicted of the lesser charge.
Ethnic-Russian nationalists protested outside the court, with Dmitry Dyomushkin, the head of the "Russkie" movement, arrested as he attempted to enter the court along with three others.
Mirzaev was a world champion in the Russian martial art of sambo, and had been due to fight in the United States under the major Bellator MMA promotion before the incident.