Social Issues

Asian immigrants in Russia face discrimination and abuse

By Ignacio Ortega

Moscow, Jun 14 (efe-epa).- Immigrants from Central Asia often face discrimination and abuse in Russia, a country steeped in xenophobic nationalism fueled by the Kremlin.

Gulzar Karavaeva speaks perfect Russian and has two diplomas but has been targeted because she is Kyrgyz, a Turkic ethnic group native to Central Asia, primarily Kyrgyzstan.

“For the Russian police we are just purses that they can squeeze as much as they want. We are not even human beings,” the 44-year-old tells Efe while sitting in a park in northern Moscow.

After four months without work she has no money left even for the subway.

She has had to wander the streets of Moscow since February, suitcase in hand, looking for a place to spend the night.

“I can’t even wash myself,” she says apologetically.

The coronavirus pandemic has accentuated the hardships of immigrants, of which there are around 11.5 million, more than a third from former Soviet Union states Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Without money, work, a house, a return ticket and on many occasions proper papers, they are at risk of deportation.

“In this country, if you have Russian citizenship you are a human being,” she says.

“If you do not have a Russian passport, you are a third-class citizen, you have come to steal a crust of bread. And if you are ethnically Russian, you are the best thing ever.

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