Digest of Russian media
Anti-Migrant Sentiment Sweeps Across Russia Following Moscow Terrorist Attack
April 11, 2024
Since the deadliest terrorist attack in decades at a suburban Moscow concert venue in March, at least 11 people have been arrested. Almost all of them, including the suspected perpetrators, are citizens of Tajikistan.

The tragedy, where 144 people were killed, shocked Russians, leading to a surge in anti-migrant sentiment in the country.

“In March 2024, we learned of 16 hate-motivated attacks. Among the victims in the past month, natives of the Caucasus and Central Asia, and people of ‘non-Slavic appearance,’ predominated. At least four serious attacks occurred after the terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk on March 22 and were presented as ‘revenge,’” the Sova Center reported.

The majority of labor migrants in Russia come from Central Asia. According to the Yesly Byt’ Tochnym (“To be Precise”) data and research project, the largest number of migrants in 2023 came from Uzbekistan (1.6 million), Tajikistan (985,500), and Kyrgyzstan (516,600). These three countries accounted for 87% of all arrivals who came to work.

Within a week after the terrorist attack, Moscow courts expelled over 400 migrants, as reported by the Russian newspaper Vedomosti. Citizens of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were most affected, according to the outlet.

The Nazi Video Monitoring project documents footage of crimes based on xenophobia and far-right ideology. Its founders say that some of the latest clips are labeled as revenge for the terrorist attack in March. One such video depicts a group assaulting a passerby:

“One of the attackers sprayed the man in the face with pepper spray, after which another attacker attempted to hit him. The man dodged and started running away. One of the skinheads grabbed him by his backpack, while another tried to strike him with a telescopic baton, but the man managed to break free. He ran a few meters but slipped and started to fall. The attackers rushed after him. This is where the video ends,” the project’s authors describe the video.

People coming from Central Asia are facing extra checks and detention when crossing the Russian border. One man who arrived in Moscow from Kyrgyzstan at the end of March told Radio Azattyk, the Kyrgyz Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

They collected our passports here [at the airport] and took us to some room. They checked our phones for four hours and didn’t give them back. They took our fingerprints and made us sign some papers. Ukrainians and Tajiks are even being beaten up. We’ve been sitting hungry for a day; they didn’t even give us water. They locked us up in a room like criminals, there are over 10 Kyrgyzstanis in one room, and there are others in different rooms. At first, they said it was ‘additional checks,’ but then they stopped explaining anything at all. We contacted the embassy, but they told us they couldn’t help us.”

In addition, the police have been carrying out raids across Russia to check migrants. In Krasnodar, over 70 people suspected of violating residency rules were detained. In Dagestan, problems with garbage collection got worse following the raids because of a shortage of workers.

Russian authorities have also notably slowed down issuing work permits to migrants in Russia. Without this document they cannot legally work in the country. An Uzbekistan native, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Current Time TV that “[t]here are people who stand in line for 3-4 days, some for 10 days, and still can’t get their documents... New people keep coming. People gather there and stand day and night. The line almost doesn’t move: only 50, a maximum of 100 people manage to get their patents processed per day.”

The suspected terrorists who perpetrated the attack, who are Tajikistan citizens, were subjected to torture by law enforcement agencies. The Russian media Verstka noted that this is the first time the authorities have openly released footage of alleged terrorists being tortured. Journalists spoke to a special forces officer who confirmed that such interrogation methods are considered normal.

“What you were shown is completely normal. When dealing with terrorists, extremists and tough bandits, that’s the only way to handle them,” he said.

As part of the Kremlin’s attempt to showcase its resolve to investigate and respond to the attack, it has accused Ukraine of supporting the terrorists. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has demanded that Ukraine arrest and extradite people involved.

“The Russian side demands that the Kyiv regime immediately cease any support for terrorist activities, extradite those responsible and compensate the victims. Ukraine’s violation of its obligations under anti-terrorism conventions will entail international legal responsibility,” said the statement.

Tajik authorities have recorded an outflow of migrants from Russia amid the tense atmosphere following the March terrorist attack. Shahnoza Nodiri, Tajikistan’s deputy minister of labor, told the Russian news agency TASS that many complaints are coming in from Tajik citizens.

“A lot of calls. This is probably not so much complaints about persecution, but rather fear among our citizens, panic, many want to leave. We are currently monitoring the situation, more [people] are coming [back to Tajikistan] than leaving,” TASS quoted Nodiri as saying.

Demographer and sociologist Salavat Abylkalikov told the Russian media Important Stories that there are few terrorists among migrants, with the problem being poor work by the security services.

“In my view, the root of the problem lies not in migration itself, but in the inability of the relevant services to effectively track and thwart the actions of terrorists. While they were vigorously combating [writer Boris] Akunin, [sociologist Boris] Kagarlitsky, Facebook, Instagram and others, they missed the real enemies of Russia,” Abylkalikov said in the interview.
  • Sofia Sorochinskaia

Share this article
Read More
You consent to processing your personal data and accept our privacy policy