The murder of three people in Moscow has brought to the surface the increasing hatred felt towards immigrants in Russia. Chanting "Russia for Russians," several thousand people began rioting in Moscow after an ethnic Russian was murdered in front of his girlfriend. The killing, blamed on a man from Azerbaijan, caused some of the worst race riots in years. Police arrested more than 1,000 people—mostly migrants. Since then, two men, one Azeri and one Uzbek, have also been murdered.
In a recent survey, almost nine out of ten Russians said they want to limit immigration.
Carnegie Moscow Center’s Maria Lipman discussed this issue on Al Jazeera’s Inside Story, with presenter Jane Dutton. She was joined by Sergey Frolov, the deputy editor-in-chief of Trud newspaper, and Innokenty Grekov, a programme associate on hate crimes at Human Rights First.
Lipman said that the influx of labor migrants is an economic necessity because Russia does not have enough native workforce. The Russian government provides a number of goods and services to the people, their incomes have been growing over the years, and Russian residents do not seem willing to take manual hard labor. In Moscow there is 0 percent unemployment, which demonstrates the economic necessity of this influx of migrants, Lipman stressed.
She added that it is not the migration itself, but its circumstances, that cause problems. Its newness for Russia and the society’s low trust in authorities have both elevated fears of migrants. The populist and short sided policies of Putin are leading to diverse challenges; besides the existing political risks, socioeconomic protests and ethnic tensions are on a rise, Lipman concluded.