Moscow's police chief questioned on Wednesday whether civil liberties are even practical when authorities need to keep law and order and blamed non-Muscovites for up to 70 percent of all crimes committed in the city.

Vladimir Kolokoltsev's remarks supported Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's comments a day earlier on introducing possible restrictions on movement into big cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg, a move that seems to target dark-skinned people in the Caucasus.

The death this month of a young Slavic football fan in a fight with people from the Caucasus has led to a nationalist backlash that has spilled into racist violence on the streets. A protest outside the Kremlin saw thousands of Slavic hooligans chanting "Russia for Russians!" and beating nonwhites. Police have since arrested thousands to head off further disturbances.

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