Hostages of Big Politics

On July 27, 2013 international community witnessed how a Russian citizen Magomed Rasulov together with his relatives and friends tried to prevent Moscow police officers from doing their job on Matveyevsky open air market when trying to arrest a suspected criminal.

As a result of this incident one of the police officers of the Moscow city criminal department captain Anton Kudryashov was hospitalized with skull damage and brain concussion.

This incident had wide repercussions both in Russia and abroad. Many people throughout the country felt the consequences of this accident. In a video, which was published on YouTube, one can easily see in detail both the outrageous and  audacious actions of M.Rasulov, who had surpassed all the norms of legality and morality and had beaten up a law enforcement officer on duty. It is this, as well as carelessness and indecisiveness of captain Kudryashov’s colleagues, which lead to escalation of this situation, resulted in general indignation and an enormous public response from the reasonable audience, which saw these reports.

There are several questions to the administration of the open air market Matveyevsky, as well as to the police officers who were part of the patrol and let the tensions escalate to such serious proportions. Cowardice and lack of professionalism on the part of the law enforcement agents allowed the perpetrator of the crime to leave the crime scene.

Footage of police officer being beaten up, which was publicized through the Internet, as well as  criticism by the Russian president Vladimir Putin made this accident into a detonator of some large-scale and harsh actions by the law enforcement agencies. Ministry of interior, Investigative Committee, Federal migration service with the assistance of special police forces started massive checks of various “dens of vice” in Moscow and other cities where labor immigrants dwell.

In spite of the fact that the accident involved only citizens of the Russian Federation, that is the traders of Matveyevsky market and the police officers, hundreds and thousands of helpless labor immigrants, deprived of their rights, had to pay for this. Scapegoats were found and labor migrants had to answer for the mutilation of a police officer, whom his own colleagues failed to help. As a result of massive raids in Moscow and Moscow region about 5,000 illegal immigrants were discovered. This raises the question of why all these people coming from the countries bordering on Russia had not been discovered earlier, as they had broken the rules of their stay in the Russian Federation?

It is corruption that had deeply penetrated the state apparatus that we are dealing with here. 12-million strong army of labor migrants, deprived of any rights in Russia, is a very attractive source of income for some of the law enforcement agencies. The level of corruption in the law enforcement agencies in Russia has taken the scale of a national catastrophe. In spite of all the campaigns to fight crimes and violations perpetrated by the police officers, the level of crime and corruption among the police is ever on the increase. It is always easier to put all the blame on labor immigrants, portraying them as the cause of all troubles of Russia, labeling them “terrorists” or “Muslim fundamentalists” than to fight the crime among the police. Federal security service, Ministry of interior, Ministry of emergency situations, Sanitary and epidemiological service, federal and regional authorities – each of them has a piece of a cake which is the labor immigrant.

The accident on Matveyevsky market gave an excuse to the Federal migration service of Russia to create 83 detention centers for illegal immigrants throughout Russia, where a large number of police officers will be employed. This, in turn, means increased state budget spending counted in millions of rubles. One of the examples was the creation of a concentration camp in Golyanovo district of Moscow, where about 500 persons were held in anti-sanitary conditions without even basic conveniences.

Russian state authorities which organized this camp should have provided all the necessary hygienic conditions, as well as hot meals for the inmates. But instead of that no proper medical care was provided to women, children and elderly people there for days, and this unprecedented case became known to the public.

This camp for detention of illegal immigrants was organized in a place which can be used only during summer time, while the question arises what is to be done when the temperatures fall and make this camp unsustainable? Where will illegal immigrants be held if they find themselves detained in winter time?

According to reports from reliable sources, while the massive raids against labor immigrants were carried out, these people were subject to in human treatment by the police forces. During the raids children 3-5 years old were taken from their parents. If parents were placed under arrest, children were lacking care.

In an interview to Izvestia newspaper the head of the State Duma committee on labor and social policy Andrey Isayev said that the status of these deportation tent encampments could be legally defined in autumn. The statements of this member of parliament only stressed the lack of legal grounds behind these camps in present.

It is not the main guilty parties for this accident involving Russian citizens only – the Ministry of interior and the Federal migration service – who are now paying for this. It is labor immigrants from Central Asia, who have the most hard and poorly paid jobs that have to pay for this now. It is because of the socio-economic problems in their own countries that Uzbek, Kirgiz, Tadjik, Turkmen workers have to look for any jobs in various parts of Russia, often becoming the subjects of slave trade in the course of this.

Uzbekistan government has completely renounced its own citizens, having declared them “lazy bums” (http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=gCk9kesr26k). People left to their own fortunes have to seek ways to resolve their legal problems themselves, often becoming objects that are sold and bought.

Detentions of labor immigrants using guns, special equipment and mere brutal force by the police special detachments is an illegal and cruel practice which is in violation of all the international legal norms.

Many Uzbek citizens, whose only intention was to provide means for their families through hard work, are still being held in various police stations in Moscow, Moscow region and other cities of Russia. These men, women and children are held in regular cells in police stations, as if they were criminals.

There are a lot of people among these labor immigrants that require medical assistance, but the punitive measures adopted by the law enforcement agencies in Russia prevent them from getting it. Lack of water, food, proper medical services puts these people into a critical situation.

Following these violations of law committed by the law enforcement agencies in Russia against labor immigrants, the relatives and friends of the detained people informed the embassies and consulate departments of their countries about this. Representatives of embassies of Vietnam, Tadjikistan and Kyrgyzstan expressed their worries about the destiny of their citizens and arrived to the locations where these people were detained in order to report to their governments.

Relatives and friends of detained Uzbek citizens were also looking for justice and made numerous appeals for assistance to the embassy of Uzbekistan in Moscow. But the members of diplomatic mission, who were aware of the clearly stated position of Uzbekistan president Mr.Karimov regarding all Uzbek citizens forced to work in Russia, have ignored any and all appeals for help.

Given the critical situation of the labor immigrants in Russia, International human rights organization “Club of Flaming Hearts” recommends:

–  to the government of the Russian Federation: to implement the practices of European countries regarding regulation of the situation of illegal immigrants;

–  to the UN High Commissioner on human rights: to interfere with this situation and adopt necessary measures regarding the serious violations of the rights of labor immigrants in Russia and to take some advance actions;

–  to the internal security service of the Federal migration service: to improve fighting against corruption among the officers of the service, while at the same time making some educational work among them;

–  to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation: to initiate criminal prosecution against high ranking officials of the Ministry of interior and the Federal migration service responsible for the flourishing of corruption in their respective organizations;

– to the embassy of Uzbekistan in Russia: to provide timely and effective assistance to Uzbek citizens who fell victims of xenophobic policies of the Russian authorities;

–  to all human rights organizations regardless of their geographical location: on August 13, 2013 to take part in protest actions initiated by the “Civil Assistance” Committee against the illegal establishment of a camp for detained labor migrants in Golyanovo.

Mutabar Tadzhibayeva,

Director of International human rights organization “Club of Flaming Hearts”

Paris, August 10, 2013