The Russian Reader

News and views from the other Russias

Sergey Abashin: Remittances by Central Asian Migrant Workers in Russia during the First Quarter of 2018

central asian migrant workerCentral Asian migrant workers hard at work on a roof in central Petersburg on a Sunday in early May.

Sergey Abashin
Facebook
June 18, 2018

Finally I’m writing again about migrant workers, a subject that right at the moment interests very few people.

Data on remittances by private individuals from Russia to other countries for the first quarter of 2018 has been released by the Russian Central Bank after a great delay. Here is the picture they present.

Uzbekistan was the leader among the CIS countries. Its nationals remitted $726 million, which is 17% more than in the first quarter last year.

Tajikistan came in second place with $487 million, which is 15% more than the same time last year.

Kyrgyzstan took third place with $434 million, 9% up from the first quarter last year.

The figures thus show a significant increase in remittances, which testifies to an growth in the wages paid to migrant workers and an increase in the numbers of migrant workers themselves. Remittances to Kyrgyzstan have been growing more slowly, but in fact that means a large portion of the money earned by Kyrgyz nationals now stays in Russia to be spent on setting up their lives here.

P.S. By the way, the champion in terms of private remittances received from Russia is Switzerland—to the tune of $1.7 billion.

Photo and translation by the Russian Reader

Sergey Abashin: Reading about Migrant Workers

Central Asian migrant workers queueing to obtain work “patents” at the Russian Interior Ministry’s migrant workers processing center on Red Textile Worker Street in central Petersburg, March 10, 2017. Photo by TRR

Sergey Abashin
Facebook
March 19, 2017

Very few people are interested in reading about migrant workers in Russia. True, many people readily believe the myths and repeat them, but they don’t want to get to the bottom of things, even if you hand them the data on a silver platter. This apathetic attitude to figures and facts is also typical of how migration is regarded.

I wrote yesterday [see below] about the trends in the numbers of migrant workers from the Central Asian countries in Russia for 2014–2016. Let me remind you that the number of Kyrgyz nationals first fell and then began to grow, exceeding the previous highs by 10%. The figure is now about 0.6 million people. (I am rounding up). The number of Tajik nationals has decreased by 15–25% and has been at the same level, about 0.9 million people, for over a year, while the number of Uzbek nationals has decreased by 30–40%, to 1.5 million people.

Now let us look at the data on remittances, all the more since the Central Bank of Russia has published the final figures for 2016. In 2016, private remittances from Russia to Kyrgyzstan amounted to slightly more than $1.7 billion, which is 17% less than during the peak year of 2013, but 26% more than in 2015. Meaning that, along with an increase in the number of migrants, the amount of remittances has grown quickly as well, even at a faster pace. Remittances to Tajikistan amounted to slightly more than $1.9 billion in 2016, which is 54% less than the peak year of 2013. The amounts have been continuing to fall, although this drop has slowed as the number of migrant workers has stabilized. Remittances to Uzbekistan were slightly more than $2.7 billion in 2016, which is 59% less than in the peak year of 2013. Meaning the largest drop in the number of migrants has led to the largest drop in remittances.

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Sergey Abashin
Facebook
March 18, 2017

Data on the number of foreign nationals living and working in Russia has not been made public since April 2016, when the Federal Migration Service was disbanded. But this does not mean there is no such data. The figures exist, and they become available from time to time. For example, an article published in RBC [on March 16, 2017] supplies some data as of February 1, 2017. What follows from the figures?

The number of Kyrgyz nationals has increased since February 2016 by 5.6%, and since February 2015 by 8.9%, and amounts to 593,760 people.

The number of Tajik nationals increased by 0.7% over the past year, and by 13.3% over two years, and amounts to 866,679 people.

The number of Uzbek nationals has decreased over the past year by 15.2%, and by 31.7% over two years, and now amounts to 1,513,694 people.

So we see three different trends. After Kyrgyzstan joined the Eurasian Economic Community [now, the Eurasian Economic Union], the number of its nationals in Russia has continued to grown. After a decline of 15–20%, the number of Tajik nationals has stabilized, while the number of Uzbek nationals has fallen by 30–40%.

There are slightly less than a total of 3 million people from Central Asia living and working in Russia. (I did not take Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan into account. If I had, the figure would have come to about 3.6 million people.)

Sergey Abashin is British Petroleum Professor of Migration Studies at the European University in Saint Petersburg. His most recent book is Sovetskii kishlak: Mezhdu kolonializmom i modernizatsiei [The Soviet Central Asian village: between colonialism and modernization], Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2015. Translation and photo by the Russian Reader.

Not My Job

Film about Tajik Migrant Worker Wins Special Prize in Switzerland
Russia for All
April 26, 2016

Главный герой документального фильма Дениса Шабаева «Чужая работа» мигрант из Таджикистана Фаррух<br /> Главный герой документального фильма Дениса Шабаева «Чужая работа» мигрант из Таджикистана Фаррух
Still from Not My Job (2015), Denis Shabaev, director
Denis Shabaev’s film Not My Job has won a prize for “most innovative first film” at the international documentary film festival Visions du Réel, which just wound up in the Swiss town of Nyon. The film was shown in the Neuf Regard competition.

The documentary tells the story of a native of Tajikistan who has come to Russia not only to work but also to launch a career as an actor.

“Farrukh is a migrant worker. With his father, mother, and brothers he lives in New Moscow and takes any job that will bring even a little money. But this is not why he has traveled from his native Tajikistan, leaving behind his young wife and small children. Farrukh wants to become an actor, a famous actor,” write the filmmakers in their annotation of the film.

While Farrukh searches for roles, he plays a migrant worker mistakenly accused of murder in a film. However, a bit later, Farrukh really causes the death of another man in a traffic accident and ends up behind bars.

“The camera literally follows the footsteps of this tragic character trying to find his way between the respect of his traditionalist parents and the will to integrate into a universe where no one is expecting him. With this first film, Denis Shabaev tells a cruel parable, whose dry and elliptical form captivates us from the first shot to the last,” writes Emmanuel Chicon in his synopsis of the film on the festival’s website.

The winner of the main prize in the Neuf Regard competition was The Dazzling Light of Sunset, by Georgian filmmaker Salomé Jashi.

Visions du Réel was founded in 1969. It was the first festival to open its doors to documentary cinema from so-called Eastern Bloc countries. This year was the forty-seventh edition of the festival, and over 180 pictures were shown in competition.

Migrant workers from Central Asian countries often feature as characters in fiction and documentary films in Russia. Thus, one of the most high-profile Russian films of recent years was the feature film She, in which most of the main roles were played not just by people from Tajikistan but real migrant workers.

She tells the story of a young Tajik woman who breaks the taboo and escapes from marriage in Tajikistan to join her boyfriend in Russia. He works illegally in a landfill, where he sorts garbage with other migrant workers and lives in a shanty. The main characters of the film will initially settle there and experience all the hardships faced by migrant workers.

Still from She, Larisa Sadilova (2013)
Still from She (2013), Larisa Sadilova, director

The film is based on real events, and nearly all the characters were played by non-professional actors. The casting for the lead female role in Dushanbe took a long time, but ultimately Nilufar Faizieva was chosen for the part. Subsequently, the actress and the picture would win several awards at Russian and international film festivals.

Thanks to Sergey Abashin for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

Renowned Tajik Theater Director Barzu Abdurazzokov Expelled from Russia

Barzu Abdurazzokov
Barzu Abdurazzokov

On His Way to Meetings in Russia, Director Expelled from Country
Radio Ozodi
April 13, 2016

Seeing stamps from Ukraine, Turkey, and Georgia in the passport of famous Tajik director Barzu Abdurazzokov, Russia border guards denied him entry to Moscow. 

Russian border guards did not allow the famous Tajik director Barzu Abdurazzokov entry to the country. After detaining and questioning him for an hour, he was expelled to Tajikistan.

Abdurazzokov had flown to Moscow with a company of Kyrgyz actors, and from Moscow he was scheduled to fly to Saint Petersburg, where he was staging a production of Ballad of a Mankurt at Meetings in Russia, an international theater festival of CIS and Baltic countries.

The famous theater director told Radio Ozodia in an interview on April 13 that the actors of the Chingiz Aitmatov State National Russian Drama Theater were judged the best at the festival and won the Kirill Lavrov Prize, named in memory of the People’s Artist of the Soviet Union.

The play Ballad of a Mankurt is based on Chingiz Aitmatov’s novel The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years.  Abdurazzokov was the production’s director, script writer, and musical director.

The festival, which was held for the eighteenth time, also featured another production by the Tajik director, Classmates: Life Lessons.

Abdurazzokov said that over the past six years he had traveled to different countries with his passport and had encountered no problems, but Russian border guards took issue with his papers and expelled him.

​”We flew from Bishkek to Moscow, whence we were supposed to fly to Saint Petersburg. When we arrived in Moscow, the Russian border guards examined my passport, in which there were numerous stamps from Ukraine, Turkey, Georgia, and Iran, for a long while. An FSB officer came up, took my passport, and made a photocopy. I was told there were inaccuracies in the document and was detained. I wanted to call the Russian Ministry of Culture so they would know about the difficulties one encounters, but the border guards didn’t let me call,” said the director.

Abdurazzakov said he was held at Domodedovo Airport around an hour and then sent home to Tajikistan on the next flight from Moscow to Kulyab.

“On the day the festival opened, I was already in Dushanbe, and my company was performing there without me,” he said.

Abdurazzokov has already received a new passport and should leave the country in a few days to continue working. He believes his sudden arrival  Tajikistan was no coincidence. He had a ticket for an April 10 flight from Petersburg to Dushanbe, because he wanted to visit his mother immediately after the festival.

“Fate decided to speed up our meeting,” he said, laughing.

Honored Artist of Tajikistan Barzu Abdurazzokov was born in 1959 in Dushanbe. His father is the famous actor Habibullo Abdurazzokov;  his mother, the actress Fotima Gulomova. In 1980, he graduated from the directing  department at the Tajik Institute of Arts, and in 1987, from the directing department at Lunacharsky State Institute for Theatre Arts (GITIS) in Moscow.

In 2009, his production Madness: The Year 1993, staged at the Russian Dramatic Theater in Dushanbe, was banned by the country’s culture ministry.  Subsequently, Abdurazzokov was unable to get work in Tajikistan, but Bishkek was happy to have him. Since 2013, he has worked at the Aitmatov Theater, and for two years in a row he was awarded Kyrgyzstan’s best director award.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Photo courtesy of Radio Ozodi

“You’ll Be Gone in Three Minutes. I’m Going to Kill You”

“You’ll Be Gone in Three Minutes. I’m Going to Kill You”
Elena Srapyan, Civic Assistance Committee
refugee.ru
April 12, 2016

On Friday, April 8, between Novye Cheryomushky and Kaluzhskaya subway stations in Moscow, an elderly man fired a trauma pistol several times into the head of a man of non-Slavic appearance. The wounded man is now in the intensive care ward of City Clinic Hospital No. 1 in serious condition. The Civic Assistance Committee has taken charge of the victim’s legal defense.

сулаймон саидов
Sulaimon Saidov

On the evening of Friday, April 8, Sulaimon Saidov, a 38-year-old Tajik national, was traveling home from work to Tyoply Stan. He was accompanied by his 19-year-old nephew Mukhammajon Khakimov, who had recently arrived in Moscow from Tajikistan. Saidov has lived in Moscow for over thirteen years. Like most of his relatives, with whom he rents a small flat in Tyoply Stan, he works in construction. The job enables Saidov to feed his four children.

This time, the trip home on the subway proved disastrous. It all began quite casually. At Profsoyuznaya station, a drunken middle-aged man who could barely stand on his feet burst into the subway car. He immediately spotted Khakimov. He went right up to him, pushing him and shouting.

“Who the hell are you? Where are you from? What are you doing here?” he asked Khakimov.

Khakimov modestly replied he was from Tajikistan.

The assailant called Tajiks “black monkeys,” swore, and demanded that uncle and nephew immediately leave the car because it was “only for [ethnic] Russians.” Khakimov went over to his uncle, seeking protection. Saidov stood up, pushed his frightened nephew behind him, and tried to calm him.

“The man is just drunk. Don’t look at him. Don’t pay any attention,” he said.

Staring point blank at Saidov, the assailant said, “You’ll be gone in three minutes. I’m going to kill you.”

As Saidov relates it, he felt no danger: the threat from the elderly, frail-looking man seemed too absurd. Even when he spotted a pistol in the assailant’s hands, he did not believe it. He thought it was a toy. However, the pistol was real, a trauma pistol, and the assailant began firing.

He managed to squeeze off several shots at both Tajiks. He missed Khakimov, but he hit Saidov three times in the head and once in the stomach. At short range, the shots could have been deadly. One of the bullets entered Saidov’s eye and damaged the sclera, while another left a huge wound in his skull.

Saidov realized he had to fight for his life. He felt no pain. In a state of shock, he grabbed for the assailant’s pistol and managed to wrest it from his hands. At that moment, the doors of the subway car opened, and assailant and victim found themselves on the platform of Kaluzhskaya subway station. According to police, there was no CCTV camera in the car, but on the station’s cameras what happened looks like a fight. Rushing to the scene, police detained the man holding the pistol: Saidov. Police grabbed him, wrested the weapon from him, and put his hands behind his back. Only when bystanders shouted that he was the victim was Saidov released.

The assailant managed to escape the scene, but was detained quite soon thereafter. When witnesses identified the attacker on video surveillance recordings at the station, it turned out the man’s face was familiar to police. After the pistol was fingerprinted, there could be no doubt: the assailant was 58-year-old local resident Sergei Tsaryov, who had been detained at the same subway station a week earlier.

Tsaryov was brought in literally minutes later. However, police were unable to talk with him for a long time. The man was so drunk he could not answer clearly. At the same time, relatives of the victim were giving testimony in another office. Saidov was almost immediately taken away by ambulance. His injuries were so severe that doctors feared for his life.

Saidov’s cousin Dilshod Saidov, who speaks Russian well, soon arrived at the scene. At the time, Police Captain Ilyinsky was questioning relatives and witnesses, and drawing up an incident report. Dilshod Saidov assisted the captain by translating for Khakimov. But when Ilyinsky read the interview record aloud, Saidov was struck by the differences between it and Khakimov’s testimony. Saidov began verifying the interview record phrase by phrase. According to the text, it was Khakimov who had got a rise out of the passenger with whom Sulaimon Saidov had later fought.

“As if Mukhammajon had provoked the assailant by the mere fact of his existence,” said an indignant Dilshod Saidov. “I had to fight for every word in his testimony: that alone took two hours. They also tried to give me a hard time. They said, ‘Who the hell are you? Let’s check you out.’ Only I wasn’t scared. I’m a regular guy: all my papers are in order. Yeah, the night at the police station was just awful.”

But most importantly, the ambulance doctors managed to get Sulaimon Saidov to City Hospital No. 1 quickly, where he immediately underwent surgery. Thanks to the efficiency and professionalism of his doctors, Saidov survived.

Saidov’s family are alsop grateful to a young female witness who went with them to the police station and stayed there to the end. Unfortunately, they were unable to exchange telephone numbers. The police were vigilant and made sure that communication between them was impossible.

Saidov’s relatives stood watch outside the intensive care ward all through the evening of April 8 and the early hours of April 9.

“I was at work when it happened,” says Dilafruz Sharapova, a close friend of the victim’s. “I called Sulaimon, but he didn’t answer. That usually doesn’t happen, and I got scared right away. Then his nephew picked up the phone. First he said  they were just on the subway. He didn’t want to scare me. When I got home, his cousin called and told me everything. I remember I immediately said to him, ‘Come and get me, and let’s go to the hospital.’ I couldn’t just sit there, you know? We arrived at the hospital, and I waited so long for the doctors to say at least something that it was frightening. I was able to see him only a day later. The operation was over, and the danger had passed. Things will probably be rough for us now, because he won’t be able to work. But I’m not thinking about that for the time being. I am only worried for him. I can’t think about anything else.”

The doctors are now optimistic in their prognoses. Although Saidov suffered a severe bruise to the crown of his head, the brain was not affected. Saidov remembers everything perfectly, and has no problems speaking. The biggest worry is his eye, but the doctors hope to be able to save it despite the damage to the sclera. Perhaps another operation, a more expensive one, will be necessary. The Civic Assistance Committee plans on announcing a fundraiser for Saidov when details have become clear and his relatives have received the necessary medical documents.

The Civic Assistance Committee is defending the interests of the victim, Sulaimon Saidov, in the case.

“For the incident to be qualified correctly it is vital that our lawyer begin working as quickly as possible,” said Marina Leksina, head of the project for the victims of hate crimes. “Because we already have cause to assume that they will try to acquit the assailant by presenting Sulaimon as an active party to the conflict. From what Sulaimon has told us, the attack was motivated only by xenophobia. It was direct aggression, which the assailant accompanied with corresponding language.”

Representing the victim will be Filipp Shishov, an attorney for Memorial Human Rights Center’s Migration and Law Network. Shishov previously represented Maratbek Eshankulov, the young man who unable to return home for four years because of the “dissimilar” photograph in his passport.

Photo courtesy of the Civic Assistance Committee. Translated by the Russian Reader

“tajikistan is russian country”

Yesterday, somebody googled the phrase “tajikistan is russian country” on (t)he(i)r personal confuser and somehow happened upon my crap blog.

In keeping with this hoary (imperialist) and blighted conception of Tajikistan’s mysterious existence, let’s take a gander at all the stories on this blog tagged “Tajikistan.”

Since they are listed in reverse order, with the latest story coming first, what you will find near the top is a really heartwarming article, translated from the website Mediazona, which I entitled “Deported Mother Returns to Tajikistan with Baby Son’s Body.”

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Here’s the nasty little editorial I wrote on that fine occasion:

Do Tajik lives matter in Petersburg? The official answer has so far been a resounding no. (And the “grassroots” answer has been a resounding yawn, actually).

Well, now that that pesky Zarina Yunusova and her creepy little dead baby are out of our hair, we can move on with our more important “European” lives, which here in the former capital of All the Russias are entirely built, swept and cleaned, and stocked and supplied with all the essentials for a pittance by expendable, utterly disempowered insectoid others like Zarina’s husband and Umarali’s father Rustam.

I don’t have the foggiest why anyone who lives in such a backward cesspool can imagine they have anything meaningful or helpful to say about the actual Europe and its alleged “Muslim,” “refugee,” “terrorist,” etc., problem, but as many of us know, nattering on endlessly and furiously about the “fate of Europe” is almost a national sport among the Tajik-loathing Russian jabberwockies.

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Unfortunately, I cannot improve on or amend anything I said back in the heady days of November 2015. All I would add is that a less stupid Google search might be “Russia is  Tajik country.” Just a thought.

flag of tajikistan

Deported Mother Returns to Tajikistan with Baby Son’s Body

Yunusova after arriving in Tajikistan with the body of her five-month-old son Umarali Nazarov. Photo courtesy of Gogol's Wives
Zarina Yunusova after arriving in Tajikistan with the body of her five-month-old son Umarali Nazarov, who died in unexplained circumstances while in the custody of Petersburg police and medics. Photo courtesy of Gogol’s Wives

Mother of Deceased Tajik Baby Leaves Petersburg, Taking His Body with Her 
November 16, 2015
Mediazona

Zarina Yunusova, expelled from Russia by order of the court, has left Petersburg, writes Fontanka.Ru. Yunusova had been recognized as the injured party in the investigation into the wrongful death of her five-month-old son Umarali.

In the early hours of November 16, Yunusova left Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport on Flight SZ204, bound for Dushanbe, the family’s lawyer, Oleg Barsukov, informed online news website Fontanka.Ru.

Yunusova took the child’s body with her in order to perform a forensic medical examination on it and bury the child there. Barsurkov noted that no problems had arisen while arranging for transport of the body.

Earlier, the October District Court in Petersburg had reaffirmed the decision to expel Yunusova from Russia since she was in the country illegally.

Face-to-face confrontations between Yunusova and police and Federal Migration Service officers had been scheduled for November 16 and 17 in Petersburg.

Five-month-old Umarali Nazarov died on October 14 at Tsimbalin Children’s Hospital, where he had been sent by police after local FMS detained him during a raid on the family’s home. According to the forensic examination [allegedly performed in Petersburg], Nazarov died of acute cardiopulmonary failure.

According to FlashNord news agency, citing relatives who attended the funeral, Nazarov has been buried in the Tajik village of Boboi Vali. The news agency did note whether a forensic medical examination had been performed before the funeral, as had been planned after the body arrived in Tajikistan. 

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade GV for the heads-up

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Our Swimmer

Do Tajik lives matter in Petersburg? The official answer has so far been a resounding no. (And the “grassroots” answer has been a resounding yawn, actually).

Well, now that that pesky Zarina Yunusova and her creepy little dead baby are out of our hair, we can move on with our more important “European” lives, which here in the former capital of All the Russias are entirely built, swept and cleaned, and stocked and supplied with all the essentials for a pittance by expendable, utterly disempowered insectoid others like Zarina’s husband and Umarali’s father Rustam.

I don’t have the foggiest why anyone who lives in such a backward cesspool can imagine they have anything meaningful or helpful to say about the actual Europe and its alleged “Muslim,” “refugee,” “terrorist,” etc., problem, but as many of us know, nattering on endlessly and furiously about the “fate of Europe” is almost a national sport among the Tajik-loathing Russian jabberwockies.