Caucasus tradition of shooting at weddings is unacceptable in big cities - Alekseyeva

Moscow Helsinki Group Chairman Lyudmila Alekseyeva, a veteran of the Russian human rights movement, said the practice of shooting in the air is unacceptable in Moscow and needs to be stopped.

"All these things need to be stopped. These are Caucasus traditions. You can shoot in the mountains, but if you have come to live in a big city you should know that you can't shoot here," Alekseyeva told Interfax on Wednesday.

"Even if you shoot in the air, the bullet may backfire and hit someone. This needs to be fought. Traditions are traditions, but people should think about what they are doing," Alekseyeva said.

Alekseyeva also said that "the punishment should not be too harsh if no one was hurt in the wedding shooting."

"Of course, shooting at weddings or just shooting needs to stop, you can't shoot in cities. Thank God if no one is hurt in the shooting. However, one needs to determine what weapons people use. Unfortunately, there is no one to do it, we don't have independent courts," Alekseyeva said.

The Moscow mayor's office earlier warned that everyone who wishes to shoot, including at weddings in Moscow, will be punished.

"Such things should not happen in the city," Alexei Mayorov, the head of the regional security department of the Moscow mayor's office, told Interfax on Tuesday.

The incident when shots were fired in the air at a Dagestani wedding in Moscow on September 30 drew a broad public response. The wedding cortege composed of nine vehicles was driving along Leningradsky Prospekt in the direction of Tverskaya Ulitsa when people in the vehicles starting shooting in the air with air guns. The cortege was blocked by the police in near Mokhovaya Ulitsa.

On Nov. 3, a source in law enforcement agencies said unknown individuals had fired several shots in the air from a car driving in a wedding cortege on Moscow's Zoyi Ulitsa and Alexandra Kosmodemyanskikh Ulitsa. The police are now working on determining the vehicle from which the shots were fired.

On Nov. 12, the press service for the Interior Ministry's Main Department for Moscow reported that shots had been fired from a car driving on Moscow's Akademika Anokhina Ulitsa. The police found that some four shots had been fired from the wedding cortege.

A criminal case has been opened against a young man who fired shots at a wedding in western Moscow on Monday, the press service for the Interior Ministry's Main Department for Moscow reported.

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