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Russian diplomat beats up top Mongolian rapper

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
ULAN BATOR
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One of Mongolia's top rappers was beaten up by a Russian diplomat after performing wearing a swastika -- a traditional Mongolian symbol -- the singer's lawyer and police alleged Friday.

Amarmandakh Sukhbaatar, known as Amraa and lead singer of Khar Sarnai -- Black Rose -- took to the stage at an event in Ulan Bator wearing a red deel, a traditional Mongolian robe, embroidered with a swastika.

Afterwards he was savagely assaulted by a Russian diplomat, his lawyer and his father told reporters Friday.

The broken cross symbol is generally believed to have its origins in India thousands of years ago and its use has been recorded centuries ago in Mongolia, long before it was appropriated by Adolf Hitler.

Tens of millions of Soviet citizens died fighting against the forces of Nazi Germany in the Second World War, known as the Great Patriotic War in Russia.

The singer -- who speaks Russian and was a guest performer on Mongolia's Got Talent last year -- was in a coma for around 10 days after the assault, said his father Sevjidiin Sukhbaatar.

"My son was hit in the face several times with a metal object and was seriously injured. His brain was seriously hurt," he said, wearing a deel and fur hat and displaying a book of traditional swastika patterns.

Amraa's songs regularly reference Mongolian history, culture and identity, and he often wears a swastika on stage. But the symbol is also used by far-Right Mongolian nationalist groups.

Amraa's lawyer, father and a fellow band member denied social media reports that he cried "Heil Hitler" at the show.

Attorney Gankhuugiin Batbayar said the investigation was being carried out more slowly than usual and the suspect had not been detained. "The suspect must be investigated according to Mongolian law, no matter his status or immunity as a diplomat."

Mongolia was under the Soviet yoke for decades during the Communist era, until a democratic revolution in 1990. But Russian cultural influence endures in many forms, including music and the use of the Cyrillic alphabet.

In a statement posted on its website, the Russian embassy said it was investigating press and social media reports of the beating.

"According to our preliminary information," it said, the reports were "distorted, particularly about the date, the number of participants and the circumstances of the accident".

A police spokesman told AFP the case was under investigation.

"The suspect is a Russian diplomatic officer and the reason he wasn't kept in detention is the injury is not serious," he said. "It's not true that the suspect wasn't arrested because of diplomatic immunity."

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