X
X

From Central Asia to Moscow, Riding the Bribery Express

View 20 images

Migrant workers arrive in Khujand, Tajikistan, early in the morning for buses to take them to Russia for employment.

There are three ways Central Asian guest workers travel to Russia, the magnet that draws millions of Kyrgyz, Tajiks and Uzbeks each year. The most expensive is by plane. Train is less pricey. Bus is cheaper still, but it’s also the slowest and most prone to scams from beginning to end.

In Khujand, Tajikistan, I approached an agent named Said to enquire about bus tickets to Moscow. For 7,000 rubles (about $203), he promised a big, comfortable bus that would take only four days and depart no matter if it was full or not.

Nothing Said told me turned out to be true. At the appointed time one morning, I met a group of six people in the city center. Said showed up to tell us the bus was waiting in a suburb. Once there, we discovered there was no bus, but two minivans. Said then said the bus was waiting just over the Kyrgyz border, about 30 kilometers away, in Isfana.

To read the full story

Konstantin Salomatin is a freelance photojournalist based in Moscow.

From Central Asia to Moscow, Riding the Bribery Express

1 / 20
X
> <