Monday, January 3, 2022

Increasing Density of Immigrants in Moscow Districts Largely Under Government’s Radar Screen

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 13 – Immigrant workers from Central Asia and the Caucasus form a far higher percentage of the population in many parts of Moscow, a development local people are very aware of but that their government has largely ignored because the immigrants are not registered and live in apartments holding many times more people than they are supposed to.

            Some in the expert community are now paying attention to this trend, warning that some sections of the city may be on the way to forming something like ghettos, with the concentration or one or another ethnic group so large that others will flee, especially if the authorities do not intervene soon (

            But because the authorities are not acting yet, clashes between native Muscovites and the immigrants are increasing, and in some places, the former are forming self-defense units in the name of protecting their communities against the newcomers (

            The existence of such units, of course, leads the immigrants to take measures to arm themselves as well; and that combination leaves the police in a precarious position where officers are often making the situation worse by enforcing the legal rights of one side or the other, something that the “losing” side inevitably views as discrimination.

            At present, there is little stomach for going back to the Soviet-era practice in which official control of residence permits ensured that the ethnic mix of most neighborhoods did not spark conflicts. But there also appears little willingness to enforce the law governing how many people can live in an apartment of a certain size.

            Too many people are making too much money from this, and among the ranks of those profiting are often the very groups protesting about the influx of immigrants. As a result, rental prices are going up in neighborhoods where the situation is deteriorating, a phenomenon not unknown in other multi-ethnic societies. 

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