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Club-Goers Allege Beating in Drug Raid

Heavily-armed police raided the popular Moscow nightclub Chance early Saturday morning, in what club owners said was an attempt to close them down.

OMON riot police from the Interior Ministry's Southeastern Anti-Drug Division, stormed the night club at about 5 a.m. Saturday morning, beating patrons and saying they had received a tip that someone in the club was selling drugs, club owners said.

Coincidentally, the predominantly gay club, located on Ploshchad Ilycha in eastern Moscow, was at the time hosting an anti-drug fashion show. At first, the crowd, which contained a number of foreigners, thought the OMON's arrival was part of the show.

"When OMON straight away started beating people indiscriminately with batons, they realized it was no joke," said a representative of the DD and DC Fashion Production company, which organized the event. Some 450 patrons were in the club at the time.

"Every third or fourth person was searched for drugs," said Sasha Novikov, whose nose was broken when police slammed his face into the wall. Riot police armed with automatic weapons ordered patrons onto the floor. The club's disc jockey was hit in the face with the butt of a gun, Novikov said. Despite repeated requests by the club's management, police showed no identification. No drugs were found, club owners said.

An official at the southeastern division headquarters declined to comment. Some 40 people were taken away.

One group of 27 club-goers were taken to a sobering-up facility, where a doctor produced documents for them to sign, in which they effectively confessed to having taken drugs. Beaten and intimated, they all signed the documents and were released, said Sukhrab Avliyekulov, one of those detained.

A second group of 11 spent six hours behind bars before being taken to the Narcological Hospital No. 17. Blood and urine samples were taken, which confirmed the absence of narcotics and the group was released after some 12 hours in custody, Avliyekulov said.

Irina Gutnova, Director of the Serp i Molot Palace of Culture

The club's director, who asked not to be identified said he believes the raid was connected to a dispute with the Serp i Molot factory, which wants to turn the state-owned Palace of Culture in which the nightclub is housed into a business center, restaurant and casino complex.

Bronwyn McLaren
29 July 1997
The Moscow Times


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