Last month, a number of slave migrant workers were discovered in the cellar of a Moscow store. It was, alas, just one example of a much a wider practice exploiting vulnerable groups across the country. In a special oDRussia investigation, Grigory Tumanov reports on the worrying prevalence of modern-day enslavement within Russia.
Videos recently widely circulating on social networks in both Russia and the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan show Kyrgyz men working in Russia brutally attacking their female compatriots for the ‘crime’ of associating with men of other nationalities. Gulzat Botoeva looks at how these scenes reflect not only problems of national identity but wider issues around migrant labour in Russia
The stream of migrants from Central Asia seeking work in Russia is considerable, but racism and the migration laws there make them vulnerable to intimidation and exploitation. Many prefer to stay within their cultural and religious framework by working in Kazakhstan. Life there isn’t easy either, says Bhavna Dave.
The life of a migrant worker is never easy. The upheavals of the past 20 years in the former USSR have resulted in waves of Central Asians going to Russia to find work. To judge by their tales, the bureaucracy is finding it very hard to cope. Medina Aitieva spent some time with migrants in Siberia.
Inter-communal conflict in Kyrgyzstan flared up in 2010. Since then ethnic Uzbeks, the largest racial minority, have been on the move. Sometimes they travel to Russia; sometimes back again. It's always difficult to know where to call home, says Abdujalil Abdurasulov.
Ten days ago, an “underground town” of migrant workers was discovered below a military factory in Moscow. The discovery played into popular anxieties about migrants and was heavily spun by the national media. For Madeleine Reeves, however, it highlighted the daily struggle migrants face to stay “legal”, and survive.
At the recent Kinotavr film festival — "Russia's Cannes" — the main competition featured no less than three films dealing with the hitherto ignored plights of Russia’s migrant workers. For various reasons, all three films fell short of painting a realistic picture of the situation. But their production is just the start: many more Russian gastarbeiter movies are just around the corner.
If you want to understand what has motivated the uprising of Kyrgyzstan’s poor, you need look no further than the package of neo-liberal economic reforms imposed on the country by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organisation, comments Balihar Sanghera