June 17, 2020 / 6:08 PM / 22 days ago

Azeris stuck at Russian border clash with riot police, witnesses say

(This June 18th story corrects to show that Derbent district is in Russia, not in Azerbaijan)

BAKU (Reuters) - Russian riot police have clashed with a group of Azeris who were trying to cross into Azerbaijan after being stuck in Russia for weeks because of coronavirus restrictions, witnesses said.

The frontier was closed in March after both countries imposed restrictions to stem the pandemic. However, hundreds of Azeris started to arrive at the border although Azeri authorities said they would be brought home on charter flights.

Once a week, Russia has allowed a certain number of those who stayed near the border to cross. But on Tuesday, tempers were raised by the latest list.

“The list didn’t include the names of some people who have been waiting for three months,” one of the witnesses, who did not want to be named, told Reuters by telephone.

“People went to the border and clashed with the riot police.” He said around 80 people had been detained.

Video footage from the scene, which some witnesses shared on Facebook, showed people with injuries.

A spokesman for Russia’s Derbent district police office said some of the group had been detained by the Russian police.

Reporting by Nailia Bgirova; writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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