Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Enormous and Violent Clash among Immigrants in Moscow Sparks Fears among Officials, Populace

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 14 – A violent clash in southeastern Moscow among immigrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus has led to more than 100 arrests and sparked fears among both Russian officials and Russian residents of the capital that as more immigrants return to Russian cities once the pandemic eases, such clashes are likely to become more common.

            Powering such fears is the likelihood that many of the factors that were behind this clash will continue to play a role and spark more violence in the future, especially given the difficult economic situation the immigrants find themselves in and the increasing competition they must engage in to get jobs.

            Three articles in the Russian media, one in Vzglyad, a second in Moskovsky komsomolets and a third on the Nazaccent portal combine to provide a list of the most powerful forces behind the clashes this time (vz.ru/society/2021/7/13/1106398.html, mk.ru/incident/2021/07/13/podrobnosti-draki-migrantov-v-kuzminkakh-policiyu-opovestili-zaranee.html and nazaccent.ru/content/36149-chs-v-moskve.html).

            These underlying sources of conflict include:


·         Fights over women given the shortage of females among these ethnic groups in Moscow and the propensity of traditional tribal groups within these nations to focus on the defense of women’s honor.


·         Competition for scarce jobs given that many Russians don’t want the immigrants in Russia at all.


·         Echoes of conflicts at home such as the way in which Kyrgyz and Tajiks are recapitulating in Moscow the anger each of these nations feels about the other because of the border dispute in Central Asia.


·         Isolation from community activities leading groups to turn in on themselves and radicalize.


·         Activists who stir up trouble in order to profit from it. 

        There is no reason to think that these factors are unique to this week's clash. Rather they are endemic to the immigrant experience in Moscow and other Russian cities. 

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