Remember the story of Rasul “Black Tiger” Mirzaev, the 5-0 Dagestani prospect who killed a guy with a single punch mere days after signing with Bellator, and became the focus of ongoing Russian racial tensions? Of course you do. It turns out that Bellator contract wasn’t quite signed yet, but that’s not the point. Nearly a year and a half later, justice has been served:
Rasul Mirzaev, a onetime Bellator recruit who never got the chance to fight under the promotion’s banner after being arrested for his role in the death of a student following a street fight in Russia, was convicted of manslaughter in a Moscow courtroom on Tuesday, according to numerous Russian news reports.
Mirzaev was given the maximum sentence of two years in prison.
After announcing the verdict, judge Andrey Fedin ordered Mirzaev released on time served. He’d been in jail since the August 2011 incident, and under Russian law, one day in detention counts as two in prison.
. . .
The prosecution initially charged him with a more severe crime but eventually requested it be reduced as questions arose as to whether Agafonov died from the punch, his head striking the ground or medical errors in his care. After the verdict, Agafonov’s father angrily burst out of the court.
It’s a moot point to argue between the fist hitting the victim’s head versus the victim’s head hitting the ground as a direct result, but overall, I was serious when I said justice is served here. It seems clear this wasn’t first degree murder, as that generally requires premeditation and malicious intent, or so “Law & Order” has taught me. Mirzaev apparently tried to help Agafonov afterwards, then turned himself in and cooperated with the cops, and even sent money to Agafonov’s family. Hardly the actions of a cold-blooded murderer. The fact that Agafonov was a bodybuilder who had an 8″ height and 50lb weight advantage, was reportedly drunk, and at least partly provoked the fight to boot, probably didn’t hurt Mirzaev’s defense either. But Russian “nationalists” (translation: racists) care not about such circumstances:
The tragic incident that happened in central Moscow attracted huge public interest and practically divided Russian society in two. One party stressed that the case has a pronounced nationalistic angle since Rasul Mirzaev is a native of the Russian North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, while Ivan Agafonov (of allegedly Russian origin) was born in Moscow. The other side insisted the case is purely criminal and has nothing to do with nationalism.
. . .
Russian nationalists attempted to use the case to their advantage. Officials feared nationalist leaders could use the Mirzaev case as a pretext to trigger ethnic clashes, as happened in Manege Square in the very center of Moscow on December 11, 2010.
The Russian Parliament’s lower chamber called on the nation not to peddle the question of nationality in this arguable case.
Even as the judge was reading off the sentence, a group of six nationalists made a deliberate attempt to break into the court house, which was guarded by over 100 police officers. All of them were arrested, including known nationalist leader Dmitry Dyomushkin.
So in a nutshell, this should have been a standard barfight-gone-tragically-wrong story, but the molehill was built into a towering mountain by those with a racial/political axe to grind. Imagine this happening in America with a Mexican as the killer and a corn-fed whiteboy as the victim, and you probably have a good idea of how it played out in the media. I can hear the likes of Rush Limbaugh ranting about the growing threat of “deadly brown ninjas” already.
Anyway, don’t expect Bellator to re-recruit Mirzaev any time soon considering their other recent killer scandal. Not to mention that they’re now importing more Russians than a strip club, and some of those folks may have strong opinions about the Black Tiger.