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Russia: Amid Migrants’ Fears, Kyrgyz Fight Club Emphasizes Self-Defense

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Fighters warm up at the Aykol Manas Fight Club in Moscow.

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.

Ask one of the million-plus Central Asian labor migrants in the Russian capital and chances are he or she will say it’s prudent to maintain a low profile. Harassed by police and nationalist groups, threatened with deportation or police shake-downs, and subject to scorn from populist politicians, Central Asian labor migrants are easy targets for Russians venting frustration with their own inefficient government. Under such circumstances, it’s not unusual for citizens of a far-off country to hang out together and help each other.

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Konstantin Salomatin is a freelance photojournalist based in Moscow.

Russia: Amid Migrants’ Fears, Kyrgyz Fight Club Emphasizes Self-Defense

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