Violence against migrant workers


In February 2011, a group of Tajik citizens came to the Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial.” From February, 2009 till February, 2011 they were beaten by a person who introduced himself as a militia worker (criminal investigation department).

All described cases took place at the shopping centre “Narodny” on the territory of the Kirov district of Saint Petersburg. The man introduced himself to all of them as a militia worker and showed his identity document. Then the migrant workers were searched without attesting witnesses, handcuffed, put in the car and brought to a car-care service where they were met by accomplices of the criminal. The militia worker ordered to take away all money and mobile phones, and then beat them. After beating, the migrants were threatened that if they ever come again to that shopping centre or if they go somewhere to complain they will be killed.

All stories of beaten Tajik citizens are similarly awful, but some of them are especially cruel. For instance, Nasimjon told us: “After they beat me for a whole day in the car-care service, they put me in the car and brought to the border with Finland and gave me to an unknown person. I worked in two places in a row one day after another. I asked the landlord to let me go. He said that he bought me for 10, 000 rubles so I have to work for 10 days. Apart from me, there was an Uzbek guy working there. He had a phone. I worked for 3 days there, but then I managed to call my friends. I ran away, the friends picked me up on the road and brought to St Petersburg. I never went to that shopping centre again. I was told I would be killed if I ever come there again.”

It could be an example of mere criminality: a criminal pretends to be a militia worker and uses the rightless status of migrant workers – he robs them and then sell them in slavery. But here is the story told by another migrant, Hurshed, which obliquely confirms that the criminal was related to militia: “When I and my friend arrived to the shopping centre “Narodny” to buy some products, a man in civilian clothes came to us. He introduced himself as militia worker, searched me and asked for the documents, and then he went away. When I was paying for the food, he came to me again, this time accompanied with two other men, and said that he wants to search me properly. He pushed me, then handcuffed me and swore. He took me to the car and drove to the forest. All three of them beat me with bats and metallic tubes. The militia worker hit my head with a gun. I was bleeding. Sometime later, he unlocked the handcuffs and ordered me to wash my face in a puddle. Then he put the handcuffs on again and brought me to the 13th militia department. I was closed in a cell for 3 hours. Nobody took the handcuffs off. Then they beat me again saying that if I want to stay alive I have to pay a fine of 5,000 roubles. I said I had no money. They gave me a phone to call my friends and ask them to bring money. I called a few of my countrymen who brought a bailout of 15, 000. Then they freed me but warned me never come to the shopping centre “Norodny” again. And if I do, they will bury me in the forest. After I was released, I went to the hospital on Solidarnosti Prospect.”

The activities of the criminals contain component elements of crimes prescribed in the Russian criminal code: intended bodily injury, torture, threat of homicide or bodily injury, illegal deprivation of freedom, human trafficking.

The lawyers of the ADC Memorial prepared and sent matters on adoption of measures for these cases to the prosecutor’s office and the Internal security directorate (ISD) of the Interior department of St Petersburg. The complainers testified at the ISD and prosecutor’s office of the Krasnogvardeysky district. They were shown the photographs of the workers of the 13th militia department. They identified the man who arrested and beat them. The workers of the law-enforcement agencies coordinated their further activities on the grounds of the complaints. The materials of the case will be sent to the Investigation Committee who will take proper measures basing on the facts. The case will probably be sent to the court and the guilty will be brought to justice.

Dmitry Poltavsky

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