| Human Rights

Xenophobia towards Uzbek, Tajik migrants seen rising in Russia

By Maksim Yeniseyev


Detained illegal migrants from Uzbekistan stand behind bars of their cell at the police station in Kazan railway station in Moscow on January 24, 2012. Xenophobia in Russia is on the rise, according polls. [Andrey Smirnov/AFP]

Detained illegal migrants from Uzbekistan stand behind bars of their cell at the police station in Kazan railway station in Moscow on January 24, 2012. Xenophobia in Russia is on the rise, according polls. [Andrey Smirnov/AFP]

TASHKENT -- A wave of violent attacks on Uzbek and Tajik migrants living in Russia is raising concerns about rising xenophobia and targeted aggression against those who look "non-Slavic".

In one recent incident, an angry passenger stabbed Uzbek taxi driver Sherzod Astanayev, 34, in February, Novaya Gazeta reported November 10.

According to Astanayev, the passenger berated him about his ethnicity throughout the trip and yelled a slur when he suddenly stabbed Astanayev in the forehead.


Seventy-one Uzbek labour migrants who suffered various difficulties in Russia arrive in Tashkent October 12. [Uzbek Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations]

Seventy-one Uzbek labour migrants who suffered various difficulties in Russia arrive in Tashkent October 12. [Uzbek Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations]


Relatives greet labour migrants returning to Tashkent on October 12. The Uzbek government paid for their flights from Moscow. [Uzbek Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations]

Relatives greet labour migrants returning to Tashkent on October 12. The Uzbek government paid for their flights from Moscow. [Uzbek Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations]

Astanayev recovered and the case went to trial, but "the traditional Russian game began", Novaya Gazeta reported.

"The investigators lost all the recordings from the surveillance cameras, except for one (which, of course, could not see anything), and the prosecutor's office stated that there was no attempt to kill anyone, let alone from ethnic hatred," wrote Novaya Gazeta, including the text within parentheses.

The attacker walked free.

"A new wave of aggression against people with non-Slavic looks" is sweeping Russia, according to the newspaper, adding that sociologists have recorded "a sharp increase in xenophobia among Russians over the past year".

Making matters worse, the Russian media report such incidents with exaggerated neutrality, calling them "everyday disputes", it said.

Violence grows

In another incident, a 20-year-old Uzbek man was killed November 22 on Prospekt Mira in Moscow, Fergana News reported, citing Russian news agency Interfax.

A group of young men with knives stabbed him to death.

In yet another case, a 38-year-old Tajik man, Ilkhomuddin Shoyev, died at a police station in Moscow on November 21 under suspicious circumstances.

Shoyev had been working in Moscow while his wife and children remained at home in Tajikistan, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported November 28.

Shoyev was buried November 27 in his native village of Bakhoriston.

Shoyev supposedly died of heart failure, according to Moscow police. But his body bore traces of a severe beating, his father told RFE/RL.

Tajik Interior Minister Ramazon Rakhimzoda urged his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Kolokoltsev, to personally oversee the investigation into Shoyev's death, in a message posted on the ministry's website November 28.

Rising xenophobia

For Uzbeks and Tajiks residing in Russia, discrimination is commonplace and the violent attacks are not surprising.

"Of course I have faced xenophobia in Russia," Abdumalik Fattakhov, an Uzbek cook in a St. Petersburg restaurant, told Caravanserai. "You don't have to go far. You can open any newspaper with tenant-wanted ads, and they'll say, 'Only for Slavs.'"

"It is very difficult to find housing, so we often rent from ... the diaspora or from other migrants," he said. "But we try not to pay attention to such things."

A poll this year by the independent Russian think-tank Levada Centre showed an increase in negative views towards Central Asians.

In July 2017, 19% of polled Russians said the number of Central Asians permitted to live in Russia should be limited. This year, 25% agreed.

To a question that omitted nationalities, "Should the flow of labour migrants be limited?", 67% responded positively this year, compared to 58% last year.

Helping migrants return home

The Uzbek government is working to assist labour migrants who find themselves in a difficult situation -- financial, legal or otherwise -- in Russia.

On October 12, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations Sherzod Kudbiyev met a group of 71 such migrants at the airport in Tashkent as they returned from Moscow.

The migrants had run into financial difficulties, which regularly beset foreign-born workers in Russia when dishonest employers refuse to pay them.

An Uzbek government agency formed in July, the Foundation for the Support and Defence of the Rights and Interests of Citizens Working Abroad, brought back the 71 Uzbeks.

Uzbekistan and Russia in September reached an agreement to repatriate 1,500 Uzbek labour migrants now being held by the Russian Interior Ministry for various reasons.

But Russia's policy towards labour migrants remains contradictory, according to Valerii Khan, an Uzbek political scientist based in Tashkent.

"On the one hand, under pressure from society, Russian politicians want to limit the flow of migrants into the country," he told Caravanserai.

"But on the other hand, they use the need of residents of Central Asian countries for extra pay abroad to justify their imperial ambitions," he said, referring to Russia's goal of keeping Central Asian countries economically dependent and to satisfy Russians' preference to have other nationalities do low-status work.

Creating new opportunities

The Uzbek government is also working to create opportunities for returning labour migrants amid the waning economic attractiveness of Russia and the unstable exchange rate of the ruble.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev October 17 signed the law "On Private Employment Agencies", which abolished the state's monopoly on the employment of citizens abroad. Now, private companies may send employees to work abroad.

The law aims to streamline the market for employment services, including labour migration, thereby creating new opportunities for the private sector, according to the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations.

It also enhances protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens working in Uzbekistan and abroad.

In another step expected to help protect the rights of migrants more effectively, Uzbekistan on November 27 joined the International Organisation for Migration.

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43 Comment(s)
Comment Policy Captcha
| 2019-05-20

Fascism has reared its head in Russia

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| 2019-05-17

Russians are turning into Nazis little by little and this is obvious.

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| 2019-03-17

Why doesn't the state where these people live provide decent jobs?!

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| 2019-02-27

good

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| 2019-02-02

These dirty swines Russkis should be killed. What an abominable nation, ungrateful scum

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| 2019-03-17

Why do you say it like this?

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| 2019-04-17

You are a dirty swine yourself. Maybe you should be killed. You scum. I don't know your ethnicity. But this is too much. Why don't the admins here address these nationalistic potshots. Although Shitserai has been stoking ethnic strife for a long while. Everything published here is bollocks ordered by Americans.

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| 2019-01-19

A real Russian who respects himself and his people will not respect other peoples that way. Presidents must find a common way out of this situation. It is necessary to remember that a Slav and a Muslim have the same God, the same home and the same hopes for the future.

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| 2019-01-14

Kolokoltsev, Yury Chaika, Bastrykin should be fired, they are involved in corruption, but Putin trusts them [Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Russian minister of interior; Yury Chaika, Prosecutor General of Russia; Alexander Bastrykin, head of Russia's Federal Investigative Committee]

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| 2019-01-12

Muslim brothers, why do you need Russia if they deny you even menial jobs? Let Russians do all this work themselves. We, Kazakhs, don't work in Russia, they pay the same salaries we have here and moreover one should work for the good of his country. If you want to make good money, go to Korea or the USA and work as truck drivers. There you will find Uzbek, Kyrgyz, even Kazakhs who also have enough work here at home. And you will not come across this ubiquitous ill feeling towards you and Russian chauvinism

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| 2019-01-25

I support your words

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| 2019-01-05

Screw thr Russian Federation. Russians don't care about us. We need [to turn towards] Europe, they are glad to see us

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| 2019-01-01

Thanks to Tajiks and Uzbeks the police at railway stations and airports, especially Domodedovo [International Airport, Moscow], are improving their financial standing. They are robbing these folks shamelessly.

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| 2018-12-28

SLAVS WHO INSULT AND KILL MUSLIMS WILL ANSWER TO THE ALMIGHTY ALLAH AT THE END TIMES

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| 2018-12-14

I have personally encountered Russian fascists wearing shoulder boards in Ryazan

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| 2018-12-13

Those pig Russians never accepted us as human beings

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| 2018-12-22

You are not human, you are just a swine

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| 2018-12-10

Then there will be a payback and ill treatment of Russians in Central Asia.

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| 2018-12-20

Nationalism of Uzbek people is dead. And if Russians will spit on their faces they (Uzbeks) will thank them… Nationalism of the Russians in Uzbekistan at height lately, they do not respect Uzbek nation and language at all

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| 2019-01-01

Putin will stand up for us!

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| 2019-01-23

Putin is a well-respected president, but we have our own beloved president Emomali Rakhmon. And one more thing: don't insult each other, we are all humans!!!

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| 2019-03-14

A payback? You have been driving Russians out since the 90s. What would be [with you] if the whole Russia paid you back? You would go down to the Middle ages without jobs and money from Russia.

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| 2018-12-09

Why are Russia and Russians always at fault? We don't come to you. Demand jobs and a decent life from your president. You wanted independence, didn't you? So, sort out your problems independently

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| 2018-12-12

Russians, we will annihilate you all

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| 2018-12-28

Russia will drown in its own shit if there is no more workforce from CA. You better thank those who do your job that you are not willing to do... When your grandfathers were f..ed, they for whatever reason, neither asking questions nor feeling remorse came to Tashkent for bread and home, so what? [Uzbeks] invited, fed them, gave their own clothes and whatnot... And to this day if a guest comes he is welcome appropriately whoever he is... Those like you are indeed the chauvinists this article is about. Scumbag

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| 2018-12-06

Russia is the prison of nations (Caucasian, Turk, Finno-Ugric peoples, Indigenous peoples of the North). Russian has a higher status than indigenous languages even in the republics [of Russia], let alone the descendants from the Central Asian republics. They are treated like they are less than human there.

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| 2018-12-05

Sad

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| 2018-12-06

Russian chauvinism

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| 2018-12-28

They are notorious Nationalists, Hitler and his Germany were no match for them

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| 2018-12-04

I have lived in Russia for 16 years, and I can explain why people are writing that they will rent apartments only to people with Slavic looks. During last 8 years many of our people swindled landlords by not paying or causing havoc, that is why Russians lost their trust in people from Central Asia, so you cannot blame them in xenophobia…

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| 2019-01-03

Right words. There are good and bad people in every nation

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| 2018-12-04

What xenophobia are you talking about? There are a plethora of stories about successful migrants. They are well-settled in Russia, they make good money. And all these 'facts' you cited in the article are merely run-of-the-mill violence any Russian could have encountered as well.

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| 2018-12-04

Yet another American paid-for article, it's nothing new.

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| 2018-12-14

This is a real fact. It is not made to order. It is accurate. Neonazism and bigotry at it‘s height in Russia. They are most nationalist, separatist nation.

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| 2018-12-24

We will be learning English and other languages day and night, praying not to end up in Russia

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| 2019-03-14

Cut this rubbish. If we were nationalists Russia would have collapsed long ago. So, to the contrary, we get along with other ethnicities in our country well. Look at Ukraine. What a bright example of what happens if Nazis are let loose. Therefore [Ukraine] has no future. This sub-country is moving toward disintegration.

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| 2018-12-04

[You] noticed the final one percent increase - from 98% to 99% and now no one has a way to hide this problem of "ill feeling towards non-Slavs", be it government agencies, showbiz, Russian elites, mass media or the majority of citizens of the formerly great Russia. Sad!

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| 2018-12-16

The whole world hates you - this just right. You have always been and will remain pagans. If not for the Europeans you would be running around in bast shoes today. And get out with your [military] bases in Tajikistan.
Our land protects your border, you ungrateful bitches. [We] need to throw them out of here, it's better if Americans come in than this nation full of complexes.

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| 2018-12-23

You're right, bro. We are tired as fuck of this Russian shit...

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| 2018-12-29

Fucking tired of Russians? Without these so-called Russians Central Asians would be riding donkeys to this day. Who built factories in the Soviet Union? Russians!!! Uzbekistan once turned away from Russia, there were almost no Russian there... So what??? It was over. Everything. Corruption, dollar black market, back-slapping all over the country, covering up truth for the "bosses" and so on and and so forth [were rampant]. Now that [Uzbekistan] and Russia are friends and the dollar looks like in every civilised country, and the people are waking up and the TRUTH of the East begins to surface.
Uzbeks don't appreciate the culture of the country they come to, but expect Russians treat them good...

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| 2019-01-29

What a nonsense ))

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| 2019-02-04

I live in Central Asia. What kind of Muslim are you if you are acting like those you are talking about? If you are fucking tired of Russians why does your brother go to Russia, betraying his Motherland and mother tongue?
Why does he marry a Russian [girl]? It behooves a Muslim wife to humbly wait. Why are you looking for a Russian doctor to treat your child? You think they are bassavot, but you are bassavot compared to them. So, quit putting on airs and shut your mouth up. ["bassavot" is not a Russian word]

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| 2019-03-13

What else would one expect from these wogs? As soon as the [Soviet] Union collapsed they had started kicking Russians out of the country, taking away homes. They had demonstrated their rotten mentality. Hence the conclusion: no need to build anything for them, no credit lines - let them live the way they always lived in their villages without normal education (many of them read only one book - the Quran - and believe that's good enough). There are also lots of Islamic extremists among them, they should not be allowed into Russia, otherwise they would launch terror attacks right away. And it is nonsense that Russians can't do anything without them. We did before and lived just fine.

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