A State Duma deputy from the Liberal Democratic Party was severely beaten after being involved in a traffic dispute with two unidentified assailants during rush hour in Moscow late Tuesday, investigators said.
Violent confrontations are relatively common on Russia’s roads, but the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party immediately gave the incident a political spin based on reports that the attackers appeared to be Caucasus natives.
In a statement posted on its website late Tuesday after party member Roman Khudyakov was assaulted, LDPR blamed the attack on Russia’s poor immigration policy, which it said failed to provide control over the flow of immigrants coming into the country.
According to investigators, on Tuesday at around 7 p.m. a man driving a Toyota Land Cruiser made a high-risk maneuver while driving on Berezhkovskaya Naberezhnaya that led to an accident with Khudyakov’s car while the Duma deputy was on his way home from work.
“After the accident, Khudyakov’s car was pinned to the roadside and stopped,” the Investigative Committee said in a statement. “A driver and a passenger [of the Toyota Land Cruiser] approached Khudyakov, accompanying their actions with cursing. They assaulted the deputy with numerous blows to the head without reason, after which they fled the scene in their car.”
An unidentified law enforcement official told Interfax that the deputy’s assailants also used a baseball bat in the attack.
The deputy was subsequently hospitalized, and he told Life News on Wednesday that he had been diagnosed with a concussion.
The attackers have not been found, but a criminal case has been opened on charges of assault and hooliganism. Life News, citing an unidentified police official, reported that police had already identified one of the offenders, saying he was a 39-year-old man “from one of the Caucasus republics.”
LDPR emphasized the attackers’ alleged Caucasus origins in a statement describing the incident, saying the pair was “of a certain ethnicity” and “used an aggressive accent” while beating Khudyakov.
Party head Vladimir Zhirinovsky said it was “uncontrolled behavior — these people were taught to take Russians as enemies” and added that Russians were likely to demand that some regions separate from the country soon.
The nationalist firebrand also spoke about the attack in the context of recent events in the Saratov region town of Pugachyov, where on Saturday a 16-year-old boy of Chechen origin stabbed and killed a 20-year-old former paratrooper with a knife, provoking protests by angry locals who demanded that members of the Chechen diaspora be kicked out of town.
LDPR Deputy Khudyakov is perhaps best known as a lawmaker for being an outspoken supporter of making gun ownership legal for self-defense purposes.
Zhirinovsky told reporters Wednesday that Khudyakov managed to take photos of the offenders and their car and that the party was going to send complaints to the Interior Ministry, the Federal Security Service and the presidential administration asking them to undertake additional measures to punish the attackers.
Lawyer and drivers’ rights activist Leonid Olshansky said assaults on Russian roads were very common, and he said he agreed with LDPR’s position that the blame belonged with immigrants.
“What happened to Khudyakov only demonstrates that visitors from CIS countries and residents of southern regions of Russia have gotten completely out of hand,” he said by phone.
A representative for the Moscow police said he could not immediately comment on how often law enforcement agencies are forced to deal with incidents of violence between drivers, saying it would take several days to provide the statistics.