Employees from the Interior Ministry for Tatarstan and Federal Security Service Department for Tatarstan have detained a group of Chistopol residents suspected of setting at least two Orthodox churches in Tatarstan on fire, the press office of the Interior Ministry for Tatarstan said.
"The persons detained are young men aged 22 to 35, adhering to non-traditional Islam. According to them, the idea of setting churches on fire occurred to them in September 2013 and the final decision to implement it was made in mid November," the press office said in a statement.
A total of five men have been detained, the press office said.
According to the information of investigators, the first arson of a church being built at Vishnevsky Street in Chistopol took place on the night of November 16. "Fortunately, a security guard noticed the fire in time and the fire has been extinguished," the statement said.
According to information from Tatarstan police, the next arson was carried out in the village of Lenino in Novosheshminsky district and the church was burnt out.
The men detained have been placed under arrest.
"Grounds to suspect their involvement in other arsons of Orthodox churches in Tatarstan exist," the statement said.
On November 28 a church in Mamadyshsky district and on November 29 an abandoned church in the village of Kreshchyonye Kazyli in neighboring Rybno-Slobodsky region were set on fire. The reasons behind the fire in the latter are still be determined.
According to the information of the Russian emergency ministry main department for Tatarstan, eight fires (7 fires in Orthodox churches and one in a Muslim building) occurred due to various reasons in Tatarstan in 2013 so far, while none occurred in 2012.
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