A group of sportsmen from the republic of Dagestan, a federal subject of Russia, arrived in Kalmykia’s capital Elista to take part in a wrestling tournament.
Overnight into Saturday the guests went for a walk around the city. They could not keep in their indignation at the presence of Buddhist holy places and stutues which some Muslims consider to be idols.
The 22-year-old Said Osmanov was the one who crossed the line: he urinated in a pagoda and kicked a statue of Buddha in the face. Moreover, later he posted a video of his actions on the Internet.
The same night an outraged crowd of local residents broke into the hotel where the Dagestanians were staying. Osmanov was dragged out into the street and ordered to kneel and beg for pardon for the desecration of the temple. As the police failed to immediately regain control over the situation, clashes nearly started. The Prime Minister of Dagestan was not slow to head for Elista, where he and the lader of Kalmykia issued a joint statement condemning the act of vandalism.
The tournament was canceled; the coach of the Dagestani team was fired. Mr Osmanov was arrested: he is facing up to three years in prison for mockery of religious beliefs.