Anti-Migrant Raids and Detentions

Over 2.000 immigrants, allegedly without documents, have been detained in Moscow and more than 500 are currently kept in a detention camp expecting deportation. “Attacks against the most vulnerable groups, such as ethnic minorities, migrants and LGBT people, is a worrisome trend in Russia,” said Cecilia Rosing, Eurasia Programme Officer at Civil Rights Defenders.

Human rights activists in Russia report that the detainees, who are currently accommodated in the tent camp, are in precarious conditions lacking adequate space, sanitation and other living needs. They also point out that the detention camp does not have any legal status and that the detainees are kept there unlawfully.

“It is very disturbing that the Russian government is instigating discrimination of these communities, which will just feed xenophobia, racism and homophobia among its citizens,” said Cecilia Rosing.

The wave of detentions that started 29 July and is still on going was caused by a number of extensive raids of law enforcement agencies against allegedly undocumented migrants. Media reports claim that it was sparked by a conflict that occurred at one of Moscow’s markets on 27 July between a group of policemen and traders from the Republic of Dagestan, an administrative region of the Russian Federation with predominantly Muslim population. The detentions that followed the raids involved mostly citizens of Vietnam, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Kyrgyzstan and other countries.

“What is happening now is illegal and inhumane,” said Svetlana Gannushkina, Russian human rights defender and head of the human rights NGO Civic Assistance. “It is illegal, because people are being detained without proper check of their legal status and without a possibility to show their documents. Therefore, law enforcement personnel cannot in a legal way identify them. Judges make their decisions without considering individual cases. Passports are forcibly taken away from migrants. It is inhumane, because detainees do not have adequate living conditions at the detention places”. Gannushkina also points out that there are a lot of asylum seekers protected by international law among detainees.

The Federal Migration Service of Russia suggested a draft law, published on 5 August, stipulating the establishment of 83 detention camps for undocumented migrants in 81 administrative regions of Russia.