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.
The three say they’re looking for drivers of unlicensed cabs in general. But soon they admit they’re not just looking for any drivers: they are specifically targeting undocumented migrants from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, who are theoretically the most vulnerable of possible targets. Their sentiment coincides with a wave of anti-migrant hostility among Russians, who often appear to be taking out pent-up frustrations with the country’s lawlessness on outsiders – most recently during anti-migrant riots in Moscow’s Biryulyovo neighborhood on October 13.
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Konstantin Salomatin is a freelance photojournalist based in Moscow.