Police have broken up a gathering of nationalists at a Moscow nightclub that the authorities said was held in honor of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's birthday, Russian media reported.
But Dmitry Dyomushkin, leader of the nationalist Russkiye (Russians) movement and one of the 40 or so people detained at the nightclub, told Dozhd television on Tuesday that the gathering was held to discuss a planned "knife fighting tournament."
He also claimed that a portrait of Hitler shown in a newscast by pro-Kremlin LifeNews television from the scene had been brought to the club by the channel's reporter — though party-goers welcomed it, according to the interview.
"It was a private event. We had no Hitler with us. The LifeNews employee brought that portrait, the whole audience applauded her," Dyomushkin was quoted by Dozhd as saying.
A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said police seized four non-lethal pistols, a dozen knives and several brass knuckles during its raid on Monday, and also detained about 40 people, state-run RIA Novosti reported.
An unidentified law-enforcement official also said a portrait of Hitler was found at the club, where "according to information received from citizens," party-goers had allegedly gathered to celebrate the Nazi leader's birthday, RIA Novosti reported.
Seventeen people were charged with petty hooliganism following their detention while the rest were released without charge, Interfax reported Tuesday, citing police.