Nine luxury cars, a game of tag with police and gunfire mere meters from the heart of Moscow made for one unusual wedding. The bizarre incident ended in a 15-day jail sentence for one after police halted a caravan of Porsches and BMWs.
A group of wedding revelers from Russia’s North Caucasus Republic of Dagestan reportedly celebrated their nuptials by shooting at nearby passerby and cars. No one was injured by the gunfire.
Witness reported to police that shooters peered out the car windows and reportedly opened fire on nearby vehicles that attempted to pass the wedding convoy.
Following a brief investigation, police reported that the shooters had only fired into the air. Officers did not receive complaints about the incident from other drivers, they said.
When a police car caught up with the motorcade of nine cars – which included a Ferrari, Mercedes, BMW, Porsche Cayenne and Land Cruiser along with a Kia and Nissan – and demanded the passengers stop and exit their vehicles. The partiers refused, and police eventually called in reinforcements and managed to stop their motorcade near the Ritz Carlton Hotel, walking distance from the Kremlin.
Police forced the wedding guests to leave their cars and confiscated several non-lethal firearms used in the shooting after searching the vehicles. At least 15 people were detained and taken to a nearby police station, where they were interrogated. They will also be investigated to see if they're legally allowed to carry the weapons.
The owner of one of the weapons, identified as Murat Agalarov, confessed to shooting the gun, but claimed he fired into the air. He was later charged with hooliganism and sentenced to 15 days in jail. Agalrov was fined for 2,000 rubles (about $60).
The groom and other guests maintained their innocence, and said that they had not fired any guns. One of the groom's friends said that the allegations could be over the traffic jam their wedding caravan caused.
“I don’t know why they detained us. Someone did not like how we were driving,” the groom told the tabloid Life News. “I wonder what this all farce is about! Moscow is a big city. On our way alone we met three wedding processions! Probably we have been confused with somebody else.”
After being photographed and finger-printed, all of the detained were issued with fines and released, the Moscow police spokesman said.
Police have also called for witnesses to report any information that could aid the investigation.
Similar wedding celebration are frequently witnessed in Russia's North Caucasus republics, like Chechnya or Dagestan, where guests often fire in the air while driving through cities and villages.
“There is a tradition in Dagestan to fire into the air to mark important events,” one of the guests said. “Guests were shooting to celebrate the wedding. Of course, you are supposed to fire in the room or at the backyard.”
There is apparently another tradition which does not allow other vehicles to pass a procession of wedding cars, which is likely the reason behind the alleged shootings.
One of the groom’s friends told the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that, “Arthur is a very well-mannered person, he’s just moved to his bride’s apartment in another district of Moscow. [The] ‘Ferrari’ was rented for the wedding, and Arthur has an ordinary ‘Opel.’ He is an absolutely normal person. The problems for people with Caucasus origins start when their relatives from villages come to Moscow. They just don’t understand that in Moscow, it’s forbidden to shoot into the air and not to let the cars pass by the wedding cortege.”