NewsMoscow's clampdown: Minorities face raids and detentions post-attack

Moscow's clampdown: Minorities face raids and detentions post-attack

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin
Images source: © Getty Images | Contributor#8523328

5:44 PM EDT, April 10, 2024

Since the attack on the Crocus Center in the suburbs of Moscow, Russian police have been intensively patrolling the streets and conducting raids on dormitories for foreign students, as well as areas predominantly inhabited by foreigners and minorities. The operations, which include searches, identity checks, and even detentions, largely target individuals who are not white.

The devastating attack in Russia on March 22 this year resulted in 143 fatalities. The Islamic State has taken responsibility for the assault. Those detained and subjected to harsh interrogations as suspected perpetrators are primarily of Tajik descent.

Vladimir Putin has pointed fingers at Ukraine, the United States, and Great Britain for the acts of terrorism, a narrative pushed by the Kremlin to the international audience. The message within Russia, however, tells a different story.

Domestically, the incident has had severe repercussions for Russian immigrants and ethnic minorities, leading to an uptick in repressions against these groups.

According to "Politico," law enforcement agencies have launched a comprehensive operation since late March, conducting mass searches and making numerous arrests. So far, 466 individuals have been charged, primarily concerning immigration rule violations and unauthorized employment. Hundreds are awaiting deportation from Russia.

In response to Moscow's crackdown, the governments of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan - home to the largest Russian migrant communities - have advised their citizens to avoid mass gatherings in Russia and to remain vigilant.

Rising fears among migrants and ethnic minorities in Russia

"The surge in xenophobia is palpable among the local population. Fearful individuals are reluctant to leave their homes, steer clear of public transport, opting for taxis instead; some have abandoned their jobs, while others ensure their phones are always within reach," according to "Politico's" Victoria Maladayeva, president of the Foundation of Indigenous Peoples of Russia. This organization represents the interests of non-Slavic nations residing within contemporary Russia's borders for centuries.

Russia is home to around 300 ethnic groups, including some that are non-white. Vladimir Putin officially acknowledges citizens from such national groups as Chechens, Mordovians, Bashkirs, Dagestanis, Ossetians, Tatars, and more as legitimate Russians. Nonetheless, a growing rhetoric stresses the supposed dangers foreigners pose to the country.

This nationalist undercurrent has been entering the mainstream for several years. "Dziennik Gazeta Prawna" reports that according to the 2021 census in Russia, the population of certain national groups has decreased by as much as three-quarters over the last decade.

Source: "Politico", "Dziennik Gazeta Prawna"

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