On the morning of November 16, a plane flew into Tajikistan’s main airport from the Russian city of St. Petersburg bearing the grimmest of cargos — the body of five-month-old Umarali Nazarov.
The death of the child, under circumstances that remain mired in confusion, has sparked indignation in Tajikistan, where resentment has long simmered over the treatment Tajik labor migrants receive in Russia.
The tragedy unfolded on October 13, when police in Russia’s second-largest city detained Umarali’s mother, Zarina Yunusova, and his uncle, Daler Nazarov, on suspicion of violating migration laws. Many Tajiks live and work in Russia without proper documentation and are targeted in regular sweeps by migration authorities.
The adults were placed in a holding cell, while the baby was taken away into care to St. Petersburg’s Tsimbalina pediatric center for parentless children. Yunusova maintains that Umarali was separated from her by force; Russian police say the handover was voluntary.
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