It’s the Central Asian labor migrant’s second-worst nightmare (an encounter with violent Russian xenophobes is usually the first): on arrival in Russia, an immigration officer reviews the submitted passport with cold intensity. Then, a red light goes off and a couple of border guards swoop in and lead the would-be migrant away. Border guards have identified another one on the list.
Anyone following Tajikistan’s presidential election cycle knows that Imomali Rahmon is a cinch to win another seven-year term on November 6. But the lack of genuine electoral options is a source of frustration for an important constituency – the million-strong community of Tajik labor migrants in Russia.
Public anger is building in Azerbaijan over Russia’s rough treatment of an ethnic Azeri accused of murder. The incident likely will scuttle any chance, however remote, that Baku will join the Moscow-led Customs Union.
Central Asian migrant workers in Russia are dealing with tough times. So it’s no surprise that those working out at a mixed martial arts gym in an industrial part of Moscow’s Donskoy District are getting tough – and most say they’re training for self-defense.
It’s Friday evening on Moscow’s Garden Ring road and Alexander Likhachyov is out to ruin a labor migrant’s night. With the help of two friends, Likhachyov – an athletic Russian in his mid-30s “from a family of taxi drivers and Muscovites” – says he is intent on “leveling the playing field” in a profession he contends that migrants are taking over.
Outside the Altufyevo metro station in northern Moscow a group of about 25 young people, mostly between the ages of 18 and 25, gather. They call themselves “Moscow Shield” and they’ve deputized themselves to help fight against illegal migration.
Khusanjon, a 44-year-old labor migrant from Uzbekistan, was expecting a busy Sunday at the Khovansky construction market in southwest Moscow.
Instead, he and dozens of fellow Uzbeks were rounded up in a raid by OMON special forces on August 4, handed over to local police, and locked in a sweltering garage, where they were beaten and deprived of food.
If the past week is any indication, the plight of Russia's illegal migrants may be about to go from unenviable to impossible.
Police in Moscow in the past week arrested 1,400 immigrants from Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Syria, Morocco, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Egypt. More than 600 have been forced into a sweltering tent camp to await deportation.