Immigrants and ethnic minorities in Russia shudder at Putin's new crackdown after attack that killed 143 – Executive Digest

President Vladimir Putin's failure to prevent a terrorist attack by Tajik militants in Moscow has had some crushing side effects for Russia's diaspora and ethnic minorities.

While the Kremlin has been blamed internationally for terrorist attacks on Ukraine, the US and Britain, domestically it has found more vulnerable scapegoats, intensifying repression against immigrants, Central Asians and non-white Russians. Indeed, since the attack, which left 143 dead and was claimed by ISIS-K, Russian police have been conducting raids on migrant shelters in several cities, while non-whites have been targeted. the streets.

At the end of March, about 40 migrants were detained at their place of work, 60 kilometers from Moscow. Law enforcement agencies also mounted a major crackdown, including mass searches and prompt prosecutions of those accused of violating immigration laws. As a result, 466 people were expelled from Russia.

Central Asian authorities in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan – countries of origin for many immigrants to Russia – have issued statements advising their citizens not to attend mass events in Russia and to stay at home. But immigrants aren't the only ones feeling the Kremlin's oppression around their necks, says the Politico newspaper. “The wave of racism that followed the attack was very tangible for indigenous peoples,” charged Victoria Maladeva, head of Russia's Indigenous Foundation.

By “indigenous peoples” Maladeva refers to the many non-Slavic groups that have lived on the territory of modern Russia for thousands of years. “People are afraid to leave the house, they travel by taxi, some may cancel all part-time jobs for the next week and sit at home, others always have their phone in hand”, he described, and received online threats urging them to “go back to their place”. Some Russians of Asian descent and native Russians consider immigrating to Central Asia.

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Putin steered clear of the debate to maintain the image of a moderate president who represents all of Russia's 195 ethnic groups. But in reality, persecuting immigrants is a top-down operation. Russia's Prosecutor General, Igor Krasnov, told Putin on March 26 that the number of crimes committed by immigrants in Russia would increase by 75% by 2023, without any evidence to Putin.

The report, which sharply contradicts figures provided by the Russian Interior Ministry, describes an anti-immigrant campaign launched by law enforcement officials following the Crocus attack. According to annual figures from the Ministry of the Interior, the number of foreigners who committed crimes fell by 9% in 2023, while the number of foreign criminals from former Soviet CIS countries fell by 7%.

“We can't say anything about mass sentiment because it's not measured so quickly,” said Alexander Verkovsky, head of the Sova Research Center, which monitors nationalism and racism in Russia. And for that they have to do something about immigrants.”

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