Hundreds of people surrounded a government building in Russia's Dagestan region to demand the removal of a Moscow-appointed tax chief on Monday, in a challenge to tight Kremlin rule.
Dagestan and the nearby regions of Chechnya and Ingushetia have a history of insurging against Moscow's rule. Caucasus Muslims have been fighting Russian forces for the past 15 years to gain independency.
An estimated 500 people surrounded the headquarters of the Federal Tax Service in Dagestan's capital Makhachkala and prevented its newly-appointed head, Vladimir Radchenko, from reaching his office.
The protest followed local media reports that Dagestan's president was unhappy with Moscow's choice of tax chief.
"We do not understand why the federal centre is appointing our leaders," said protester Ramidin Makhmudov. "We have our own perfectly good candidates and Mukhu Aliyev could himself have appointed a tax chief."
Local law enforcement agencies made no apparent attempt to stop the protest.
"The appointment... of the 'enemy' Radchenko to the post of head of the local Federal Tax Service is one of a series of actions... on the federal level to weaken the heads of the regions," the pro-Aliyev Chernovik newspaper wrote on Friday.
"The federal tax service plays a key role in the politics of Mukhu Aliyev," the newspaper wrote.
Aliyev was appointed by the Kremlin in 2006 in a bid to bring stability to a region plagued by bombings and assassinations. He has publicly declared loyalty to Moscow.
Roughly the size of Scotland, Dagestan is a cauldron of ethnic groups and powerful clans which operate their own private armies and reach into politics, organised crime and militant Islamist groups.
Last Mod: 10 Şubat 2009, 08:53