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After Moscow attack, migrants from Central Asia hit by backlash

Published : Thursday, 28 March, 2024 at 11:37 PM  Count : 797

Migrant workers from Central Asia have often faced discrimination in Russia (file pic) Reuters

Migrant workers from Central Asia have often faced discrimination in Russia (file pic) Reuters

An increase in beatings, vandalism and episodes of racism against Central Asian migrants has been reported in Russia since the deadly attacks at Moscow's Crocus City Hall last Friday, reports BBC.

Four Tajik nationals have been accused of killing 140 people in the attack, claimed by jihadist group Islamic State. Several other suspects have been arrested, all of Central Asian origin.

Forecasting a rise in tensions in the aftermath of the Moscow murders, the embassy of Tajikistan in Russia warned its citizens at the weekend not to leave their homes unless necessary.

Central Asian migrants make up a sizeable proportion of Russia's migrant labour population, particularly in the retail, transportation and construction sectors.

Many already experience high levels of discrimination. They are "often confronted with broad social xenophobia that sees them as something of an underclass," Prof Edward Lemon of Texas A&M University told the BBC.
Tajik-born singer Manizha Sanghin, who represented Russia at Eurovision in 2021, condemned the "flagrant atrocity" of the Moscow attack, but warned of the "consequences that will descend upon Tajiks and all residents of Central Asia". She is now a goodwill ambassador for the UN refugee agency.

There are about 10.5 million migrants from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan working in Russia, according to the Russian Interior Ministry. Many more are potentially unregistered.

The high numbers are due to a visa-free regime with Russia which makes it one of the only options for Central Asian migrants looking for the economic opportunities they don't have at home, Prof Lemon explained.

Despite the Tajik embassy's warning, news that the Crocus City Hall attackers were Tajik nationals quickly travelled across Russia.

Over the weekend, a migrant-owned business was burnt down in the city of Blagoveshchensk in Russia's Far East, while several migrants were beaten up in Kaluga, a city south west of Moscow.

Migrants from Kyrgyzstan were held at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport for two days and locked in a room without food or water only to be later returned home, while taxi drivers in Moscow reported being asked by clients to confirm that they were not Tajiks.

Within hours of the Crocus City Hall attack, messages on Telegram messaging group chats in the early hours of Saturday betrayed a growing nervousness among the migrant community in Russia.

"Many people already don't like non-Russians, and now we have this situation," one person wrote on a group entitled "Tajiks in Moscow".


Related Topics

Moscow attack   migrants   Central Asia   backlash  

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