I work in the Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial, so every day I meet people who were cheated by mediator companies which issued them fake documents or by employers who did not pay the wages. And of course I also meet people who suffered from police misconduct. In January 2011 I myself became a victim of the unjust behaviour of the police towards migrants.
When I entered the metro station “Prospekt Prosvescheniya”, a policeman took me out from the crowd. He did it basing on my “non-Russian” appearance, as I was not doing anything illegal. I asked why they stopped me and demanded to show my documents, the policeman said I was suspected “of terrorism.” He did not show any of his documents and refused to introduce himself. Then he demanded to show him what I have in my handbag. This is how a toothpaste, a chocolate and a laundry soap appeared on the table. I tried to contact this nameless policeman with my colleagues who could confirm that I work in a human rights organisation. He refused to talk to them (he told our worker A. Yakimov: “Dear, I am very busy, don’t detain me”.) In fact, not him, but I was detained, though all my documents were legal. It was confirmed when another policeman called the Federal Migration Service. The only reproof was that I could not say in what district of the city I am registered. But I am a newcomer; I do not know the city so well!
It was offensive and humiliating. But I tried to defend my rights and protested against illegal activities of the police. The other migrants who were brought in the police office while I was there experienced much worse attitude: they were searched, pushed, shouted at. Obviously, there were no grounds for such an attitude: the people were going home from work and looked like non-Russians.
When the policeman unwillingly gave me back the documents, he tried to frighten me, to offend and humiliate me even more: he invited me to join the demonstration of Russian nationalists on January 15, 2011: “It will be fun! I can’t promise it will be mass extermination, but there will be at least twice fewer migrants after it”. I said: “Shame on you!” and ran from this nightmare.
All way home I thought: why are we hated? What did we, migrant workers, do to deserve such an attitude? We have enough nationalist youth groups attacking non-Russians. Why do the law-enforcement agencies support neo-Nazis and why are they inclined against migrants. I am Uzbek from Kyrgyzstan. The Uzbek minority has a hard time there now. Nationalism in Kyrgyzstan as anywhere else did not bring anything good: many Uzbeks died during the recent unrests, many came to work in Russia, trying to find a better life, escaping from the hunger and danger to life.
What do we find here? Persecution by the police and fascists. Cheating employers. Danger to life (this winter several Uzbeks died cleaning the roofs from the snow). Though they came here healthy, with a hope for a better life. Many companies earn money from the deprived of their rights migrant workers – the work contracts are not signed, the rules of labour protection are not observed, because migrants are the “second-class people.”
Will the situation change for the better? Will Russia accept migrants as normal people, and not as slaves? Walking down Tipanova Street I met three drunken Russians who shouted: “Wogs, get away from Russia!” I thought: what will happen to Russian society, if these guys rule the country? It will drown in indifference, aggression and terror.