“Liquidation” in Moscow

On the 10th of March, 2010 the news channels reported that in the Ramenki district of Moscow “a settlement of Gypsies had been liquidated”. The Gypsies mentioned in this news had been coming from Ukraine to the outskirts of Russian megalopolises since  the 1990-s. They come running away from the poverty and economic difficulties which only increased after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Roma people from Central Asia are in the same situation. Poverty forces them to migrate to better places, also abroad. What do the Russian authorities do when they deal with nomadic groups constructing illegal dwellings? from improvised material in the parks and woods hidden from view? Mostly they act repressively, for instance, demolishing houses like in Ramenki (quote from the news channel Rossiya (Russia): “it looks like after a bombing: this is what policemen can do with the help of crowbar”). Or like in the outskirts of St Petersburg in 2004: the police incite fear by shooting rounds and setting fire to small houses, along with the inhabitants’ belongings.

The journalists who described the demolition of the “Gypsy settlement” do not express any sympathy, mocking  the misfortune of ill-fated people, spouting witticisms, demonstrating their own incompetence and narrow-mindedness (“Gypsies are nomadic by nature”, “they followed their nomadic star to the next ravine”). Even when the journalists write that over 40 children lived there in “inhuman conditions”, they do not fail to add “the worse a child looks, the better it is for the Gypsies – the child would arouse pity and earn more money”. There is no tragedy in the casual remark: “all children have been sent to hospitals and care centres”. Forced separation brings suffering to the children as well as parents. Furthermore, parents are often unable to reclaim their children because of legal reasons.

Those who fully understand the situation with such migrants understand that demolitions and deportations do not solve the problem. Those who were released this time will move to another ravine or forest until police or the Federal migration service organises another raid. The living conditions of the children will not improve. The only result will be a tick in the police report and another article on “liquidation”.

Olga Abramenko



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