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Golden Gun Interrupts State Duma Fistfight

The man with the golden gun: Delimkhanov (left) pictured at the annual President's Cup race at the Rostov Hippodrome. Denis Grishkin

A disagreement about a statue in a State Duma deputy's native republic of Chechnya led to two lawmakers from the ruling United Russia party getting involved in a fistfight that ended when a golden gun reportedly fell from from Chechen lawmaker Adam Delimkhanov.

The scuffle kicked off Tuesday near an elevator in the Duma building, where Delimkhanov approached fellow deputy Alexei Zhuravlyov and started “making claims” about his criticism of the opening of a monument to Chechen women that resisted Russian troops during the region's conquest in the 19th century, Zhuravlyov's spokeswoman Sofya Cherepanova said.

According to Cherepanova, many witnesses saw that Delimkhanov began the fight with a punch to Zhuravlyov's face and also threatened to kill the fellow United Russia member.

The two lawmakers had made peace by late Wednesday, however. Zhuravlov said “the conflict has been settled,” although Delimkhanov added that they still had “different points of view”  but that disagreement was “normal” and part of “democracy,” Interfax reported.

Zhuravlyov and Delimkhanov announced the reconciliation after talking to Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin and United Russia's Duma faction leader Vladimir Vasilyev.

 Though the deputies claim to have moved beyond their fight, observers remained worried about whether and how Delimkhanov brought a gun through metal detectors in the Duma.

Alexander Degtyaryov, head of the Duma's Credentials and Ethics Commission, said by phone that the law bans bringing firearms into the Duma building, but added that his commission has no right to punish the fighting deputies unless some lawmaker makes a complaint.

Delimkhanov's spokeswoman Tatyana Georgiyeva said by phone that Delimkhanov did not have a gun or “anything similar” on him, a claim that was made by Cherepanova when news of the fight first became known.

Delimkhanov is suspected of masterminding the 2009 murder of Chechen military commander Sulim Yamadayev in Dubai, where the attackers discarded a gold-plated handgun.

The United Russia deputy had been on an international wanted list at the request of the United Arab Emirates, before Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov visited the UAE and local investigators dropped the charges against Delimkhanov without explanation in July 2012.

Duma members can bring a weapon into the legislature's building because immunity from prosecution gives security guards no right to search them even if a metal detector beeps, State Duma Deputy Dmitry Gudkov wrote on his Twitter account Wednesday.

After the fight, an ambulance arrived at the Duma to provide the lawmakers with first aid. Zhuravlyov was left with bruises on his nasal bridge and eyebrow, the deputy's spokeswoman Cherepanova said, adding that a friend of the lawmaker who had come to visit him in the Duma and tried to stop the fight had to be hospitalized and was missing two of his front teeth.

Delimkhanov also received some punches but it was not immediately clear to what extent he was injured because he left quickly after dropping his gun, Cherepanova said.

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