Each day an average of three Tajiks return from Russia in simple wooden coffins. They are the victims of racist attacks, police brutality, dangerous working conditions and unsafe housing.
They go for the money, earning up to four times more in Russia than they would at home – if they were lucky to find a job in in dirt-poor Tajikistan. “They are saving to get married and build a house,” said Rustam Tursunov, deputy mayor of the western town of Tursunzoda.
Tursunov had two nephews working in Russia. “We were preparing a marriage ceremony for them,” he said. “But it ended up being a funeral.” The two boys died in a minibus crash en route to their worksite last year.
In 2012, 1,055 Tajik workers died in Russia, according to Tajikistan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. That’s up from 884 in 2011.
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Genesee Keevil is a freelance writer focusing on Central Asia.