03 September 2008

More Temporary Repressions?

[Image source: Ferghana.ru]

A year ago, I was having drinks with a couple of friends—one American, the other Russian—at that Moscow hipster-haven Kvartira 44. We were talking about how the local police were cracking down on migrant street vendors and merchants. Specifically, a number of produce sellers who worked near my apartment had just disappeared, including a few of my favorites. The big celebration of Moscow’s 860th birthday was around the corner and everyone understood that the city was being “cleaned up.”

“Don’t worry, it’s just temporary repressions,” our Russian friend assured us with a smile.

But by the time I left Moscow, almost a year later, those vendors hadn’t returned.

More recently, Central Asian news portal ferghana.ru reports that the Federal Migration Service and local law enforcement agencies in Moscow have renewed their efforts to clear out undocumented workers in preparation for this year’s festivities. Forty migrants were arrested at Leningrad station and another fifty have been detained in western Moscow.

Just temporary repressions, I'm sure.

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And to follow up on my earlier post about violence against Georgian migrants after the outbreak of the war, things are looking worse now, after the severing of diplomatic ties between Georgia and Russia and Russia’s refusal to issue visas to Georgian citizens. These developments, on top of Georgia’s withdrawal from the CIS, threaten the well-being of up to one million Georgian diasporics across the Commonwealth warns Vladimir Khomeriki, an expert on Georgian-Russian relations.

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