Olga Cherepova

Ethnic discrimination and discrimination
on the basis of place of residence
in the Moscow region

A report submitted by the Memorial Human Rights Center

According to the obligations assumed under the Universal Declaration of  Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and  the European Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental  Freedoms, the Russian Federation guarantees protection against all forms of  discrimination on its territory. The Constitution of the Russian Federation  also contains guarantees against discrimination and affirms the “equality of  human and civil rights and freedoms of a citizen without regard to sex,  race, nationality, language, origin, property or official status, place of  residence, attitude to religion, persuasions, affiliation with social  organizations or other circumstances”. According to the Constitution, “any  forms of restriction of civil rights on the basis of social, racial,  national, language or religious affiliation are prohibited” (Constitution of  the Russian Federation, Art. 19).

The Bishkek agreement of October 9, 1992 guarantees in Article 1 the right of free entry, departure and movement within the territory of all countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States to citizens of every state of the Commonwealth.

In spite of the obligations assumed under the documents mentioned above and other documents concerning human rights, Russian authorities nonetheless introduce laws that limit freedom of movement (either in the form of “propiskas” or, after 1991, registration obtained only with official permission) at both the federal and regional level.

The law enforcement bodies provide the primary support for the anti-constitutional system that has been established in many regions (Moscow, Krasnodar and Stavropol Krais, among others) to counter those in violation of this regime: migrants, mainly “non-Slavic” people originating from the Caucasus, Central Asia etc. The Moscow authorities establish normative acts that restrict the rights of the newly arrived, rendering them unprotected and vulnerable and promote practices of racial terror aimed at forcing migrants out of the capital; they explain their actions publicly by stating that they are looking out for the interests, security and social privileges of Muscovites.

Deliberately false information is released - that only 87% of known crimes in Moscow are committed by Russian citizens, and that only 76% of them are committed by inhabitants of Moscow and the Moscow Region. Moscow authorities widely use the local mass media to spread xenophobia and “Caucasophobia” among Muscovites. Popular Moscow newspapers readily represent visitors, in particular those from the North Caucasus, Trans-Caucasus and Central Asia, as superfluous, as people known to be dangerous and belonging to “criminal nationalities” who only disturb the lives of Muscovites. The papers are full of expressive headlines such as: “A criminal of Caucasian appearance” (“Moskovskiy Komsomolets”); “Why do we dislike them?” (“MK”); “Caucasians cannot hide behind Russian backs” (about a round up at a market, “MK”); “Persons of bandit nationality” (“Argumenty i Fakty”); “Moscow should again become Russian” (“MK”); “The second advent of Tatars” (“Vechernyaya Moskva”); “The second advent of Chechens” (“AiF”); “Native inhabitants will be minority soon” (“AiF”). “VM” has published statistical data like: “There are about 1 million unregistered visitors in Moscow, in addition to the registered ones”. The press ignores the substantial labor contribution of these same Caucasian to Moscow construction and only remarks on their presence at Moscow markets: “They come to give short weight and to swindle”. No wonder then, that when “MK” drew up a poll asking “Is Moscow for Muscovites?”, a large portion of respondents answered yes.

Problems of Refugees: formal status, social securuty, education, employment

Among the largest groups of migrants living in Moscow are refugees dating from the late 80s-early 90s from the regions of armed conflicts in post-Soviet territory. The real number of refugees in Moscow is unknown because most of those who have appealed to the Moscow migration bodies receive verbal, unregistered refusals. By the beginning of 1999, about 14,000 refugees and forced migrants had been registered in Moscow. The percentage of recognized refugees in Moscow is lower than the percent in Russia as a whole. Although in 1992-1993 refugee status was being granted to victims of ethnic conflicts, in 1994 refugees from Abkhazia were refused this status. In 1995-1996 Moscow nearly stopped granting this status to migrants to prevent an inflow of refugees from Chechnya.

As a result, refugees from another “hot point” - Tajikistan - were placed in very difficult circumstances. Very few of them have received refugee status. Attempts to solve the status problem failed even after the abolition of Order #121 of the Moscow Government of March 14, 1996, which had contradicted the Law “On forced migrants”. As far as refugees from third countries are concerned, their applications for status are usually dismissed without consideration by the Moscow Migration Service.

The problem of staying in the capital and obtaining legal status is closely related to the registration of migrants by the internal affairs organs. There are fundamental differences between federal laws and Moscow normative acts in this field. The restrictive norms on both the period of temporary registration of citizens of the Russian Federation and on the minimal living space contained in the rules of registration in the Russian Federation (Government Decision #713 of 07/17/1995) and all consequent and analogous regional limitations were acknowledged as unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court Decision of 02/02/1998. As of May 21, 1999, new registration regulations for Russian citizens have been in force in Moscow. The head of the Passport Office of the Main Internal Affairs Directorate, Mr. M. Serov, announced that registration in Moscow was no longer to be a request for permission to stay, but of an advisory nature. Nevertheless, the mechanism of registration of citizens who have come to Moscow for longer than three days remains very complicated, cumbersome and humiliating. It provides officials manifold opportunities to commit abuses.

Therefore, most refugees and forced migrants who live in Moscow with friends or relatives or who rent apartments are unable to receive either the appropriate status or temporary or permanent registration. Authorities consider them to be persons staying in Moscow illegally - as illegal migrants and violators of registration regulations.

Representatives of the peoples of the North Caucasus and Trans-Caucasus, especially Chechens, who apply for registration often receive unfounded refusals. Sometimes they are told in passport offices: we do not register Chechens. When dealing with these people, militia officials often speak in terms that offend their national dignity.

From appeals to the “Civic Assistance” Committee:

Mrs. Z.S. Ayskhanova, an inhabitant of Chechnya, a widow and mother of five children, was not allowed to extend her registration in the town of Korolyov, Moscow Region on the basis of her being Chechen. Officials of the “Civic Assistance” Committee appealed to Mrs. N.V. Novichkova, the Head of the Passport Office of the Central Internal Affairs Department of Korolyov for clarification. Mrs. Novichkova answered that she had recently received a reprimand for registering a Chechen for a six-month period.

Mrs. R.Sh. Azieva received a Moscow registration certificate at the Internal Affairs Department of “North Tushino” that had a large inscription on it stating “Chechen”.

Mrs. M. Torshkhoeva, an inhabitant of Grozny, was advised to register for a fee, as a foreign citizen.

A refugee from Chechnya, Mrs. Z.I. Visengeraeva, and her family were registered for a period of only one month even though she had requested a longer term and had the consent of the owner of her apartment.

Refugees from Chechnya, the Sadulaevs, who have 4 children (one of whom is under permanent observation at the Moscow Oncological Center) were refused registration for a one-year period. This refusal occurred after the Russian Constitutional Court Decision of February 2, 1998. After an inquiry placed by Duma deputy Mr. V. Igrunov, they were registered by the Internal Affairs Department “Ryazansky” of the South-East Administrative District.

Some houses and communal services demand from temporarily registered citizens payment in advance for the entire registration period, which is illegal. For example: Mrs. B.V. Votsaeva received a bill of 447 rubles and 84 kopeks for a three-month period in advance from “Perovo” Housing Services. Mrs. Votsaeva, whose husband is missing, is bringing up three children.

If a refugee living in Moscow without status loses his or her passport, there is little chance of it being restored. It is very difficult for teenagers to get their passports when they reach 14.

From appeals to “Civic Assistance”:

Mrs. Zura Bersanova, a citizen of the Russian Federation, is originally from the Gudermes District. She lives at her brother’s Moscow home. She is permanently registered in Chechnya. Her passport has been lost. She appealed to the militia for a new passport, but was told that they do not issue new passports to refugees from Chechnya. She received only a “Form 9" (temporary identity card). She is often detained by militia for two to four hours because of her lack of passport.

Mrs. L.M. Sardaryan and her daughter are refugees from Chechnya. They live unregistered in Mytishchi. Her daughter studies at a technical school in Moscow and cannot receive either a passport or a temporary identity card because of the lack of temporary registration.

Article 43 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation guarantees free secondary and secondary professional education for all. In September 1998, the General Prosecutor’s Office made the ruling that the Moscow Education Committee, which deprived children whose parents had no registration of the right to go to school, was in contravention of the Russian Constitution and the law “On Education”. Nevertheless, in 1999, the “Civic Assistance” Committee continues to receive complaints that schools refuse to admit children of refugees and forced migrants because their parents are unregistered.

From appeals to the “Civic Assistance” Committee:

The son of Mrs. A.N. Nedid - a refugee from Baku - named Evgeny, who was born in 1988 and is living with his parents in the “Nasledie” hotel, was not admitted to a neighboring school because he was not permanently registered in Moscow. After an appeal to the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office by State Duma Deputy Mr. Igrunov, he was admitted to School #277.

Two grandchildren of Mrs. G.M. Sanikidze - a refugee from Abkhazia - named Karina and Garri Meneshchyan, were barred from lessons by the Director of School #998 because they have neither registration nor medical insurance. After an appeal to the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office by Deputy Mr. Igrunov, the children were allowed to attend lessons.

The children of Mrs. E.S. Sakhrudinova, a refugee from Chechnya - Tamila, born in 1984, and Akhmed, born in 1986 - and of Mrs K.R. Yashurkaeva, a refugee - Rustam, born in 1983, and Linda, born in 1988 - were not admitted to school because of their mothers’ lack of registration.

Refusal to grant migrants refugee status and registration also affects the provision of medical and pension services. According to the Law on Health Protection, medical aid must be provided to everyone free of charge. In practice, there are examples of aid being refused to sick persons with neither registration nor insurance. To obtain a pension at the place of temporary registration, official refugee or forced migrant status is needed. To obtain a children’s allowance, temporary registration, at least, is required.

In Moscow and Moscow Region, employment is regulated by the Registration Regulations (Decision #1030-43). According to Article 13 of the Regulations, employers who engage citizens who have no registration are subject to large fines. This article contravenes Article 16 of the Labor Code, which forbids the restriction of the labor rights of citizens based on circumstances (including place of residence) unrelated to their professional qualities.

Migrants with neither status nor citizenship are regarded as foreigners who came to Russia voluntarily. The procedures for such individuals to obtain permission to work is so complicated that most migrants work illegally. Labor migrants are even less protected by the law than forced migrants, so they end up accepting any job available, even under very unprofitable, sometimes virtual slave-like conditions.

The “Tajikistan” Regional Public Foundation for Assistance to Refugees and Forced Migrants has records of approximately 100 Tajik construction workers who had been working for private and state firms who were cheated by their employers. They either did not get any remuneration at all or received only part of the promised sum.

Labor migrants from the civil-war ravaged Tajikistan live in exceptional poverty in Moscow. They have money neither for lodging nor for registration and often live in places that are not intended for habitation; unable to pay the required fees, they are relentlessly pursued by the police. In 1998, officials of the “Civic Assistance” Committee daily distributed to hundreds of unregistered Tajiks written “safeguards”, that is appeals to “those concerned” “not to impede” the bearer. Of course, militia officers find it easy to ignore the appeals of a nongovernmental organization and Tajiks continue to be arrested in Moscow for lack of registration and for acquiring false registration certificates. Militia officers often secretly plant drugs in their pockets while detaining them and then imprison them. After that, it has happened that relatives have received telegrams asking them to collect a detainee’s body. According to the official version in such cases, these deaths are the result of suicide.

Mr. Mavzud Aliev, born in 1967 and a father of five children, came to Moscow  to make a life for himself. He was detained on January 6, 1998 for a  passport check. He was taken to the 6th Militia Office. On January 9, he was  imprisoned and moved to Detention Center #2 of the Main Office of Internal Affairs. A  case was brought against him for falsification of a certificate making a  claim for refugee status. On January 17, a telegram was sent to his parents  asking them to retrieve his body. To a deputy’s inquiry authorities answered that they were examining the version of a suicide.

The President of the “Tajikistan” Public Foundation Gavar Juraeva attests that murders and disappearances of Tajiks in Moscow became more frequent after 1996. Tajiks are often the victims of attacks by Moscow neo-Nazis and unknown persons in the streets and markets, which sometimes result in death.

An official note of the Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan to the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation, #138/06 of February 5, 1999, states: “According to our information, more that 3,400 citizens of Tajikistan are imprisoned in Russian detention centers. The Embassy receives numerous complaints from Tajik citizens stating that false charges are brought against them, that they are illegally imprisoned and that militia officers exceed their authority and commit physical violence against them ...”

A particularly severe period for the Tajik refugees was during the war in Tajikistan. In 1992-1993 many of the arrested refugees in Moscow were deported. At the Dushanbe airport they were gathered together in a special area with the aim of identifying from their pronunciation inhabitants of Garm and Pamir; they were then separated out from the group and shot not far from the airport.

Tyranny of the militia

(In this section, materials from “Memorial” Human Rights Center, the “Civic Assistance” Committee, “Memorial” Ingush Society, “Consolidation” Interregional Public Movement for Human Rights Protection, “Moscow Alternative” Public Group and the press are used.)

During her visit to Moscow in 1999, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights presented to Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov statistics on human rights violations by the Moscow militia. She mentioned in particular the illegal entry of militia into apartments occupied by persons of “Caucasian nationality”, referring to information provided by “Human Rights Watch/Helsinki”. The Mayor called the information a “lie”. He was even more indignant at the U.S. State Department Report published in 1999 on violations of human rights in 194 countries, in which Moscow is mentioned in the context of violations related to registration procedures, deportation of persons who originated from the Caucasus in 1996 and persecution of refugees. The Press Center of the Mayor’s Office declared that the report is untrustworthy because it contains references to anonymous human rights groups and “mythological documents” rather than to specific sources of information. Any criticism of the Moscow authorities is rejected, especially if it concerns the unfavorable human rights situation in Moscow.

The negative attitude of the Mayor to the work of the “Moscow Alternative” Public Group and its phone service “Hot Line” is well known. Many of Muscovites’ main criticisms, in phone calls registered since June 1999, are directed against Moscow militia detachments, especially the State Inspection of Road Traffic Safety, the municipal militia and registration offices and departments.

At any time in the streets of Moscow, in the metro, and in the markets it is possible to see the illegal actions of the militia directed primarily against people of “non-Slavic” appearance, who constantly undergo checks of their documents confirming the legality of their sojourn in Moscow. If they cannot show such documents, or often even when they can, they are taken to the Militia Office. On the way to the office the militia browbeat and insult the detainees, and quite often beat them as well. The usual purpose of these actions is extortion. The newcomers have for a long time been a stable source of easy income for Moscow militia.

Militia officers often illegally confiscate the passports of Moscow newcomers to pressure them to pay a fine or simply to obtain a bribe. This illegal practice has serious consequences: the confiscated passports often disappear without a trace, and the lack of a passport makes it impossible to register, find a job or leave Moscow; people without passports are often imprisoned in special detention centers for persons without definite place of residence. The militia officers openly seize passports in front of those around them. The “Civic Assistance” Committee receives many complaints about the actions of the militia officers working in the vicinity of the Kievsky station and the neighboring market. For example, in this region May 1998, the passports of the following citizens of Tajikistan were taken away and not returned:

Mr. Murtazaev, Umarkhojon Ubaidulloevich, born in 1964; Mr. Olimov, Nosir, born in 1972; Mr. Zoirov, Khabilo; Mr. Azimuradov, Ulmed Mamedovich, born in 1940.

Mr. M.A. Abdusalimov, born in 1973, came to the Moscow Region to look for work. He is living in unused office space at a construction site. The officers of the Mytishchi 1st Militia Office decided to fine him for not being registered and confiscated his passport until the fine was paid.

Mr. S.M. Portugalyan, born in 1958. In September 1998, he was fined for lack of registration. As he was unable to pay the fine, militia officers of the Ruza District of Moscow Region confiscated his military certificate. His passport had already been confiscated by officers of the Odintsovo Militia Office.

Majun Boymamadov, a citizen of Tajikistan. In June 1998 his passport was confiscated by officers of the “Konkovo” Internal Affairs Office.

Tokhir Pulotov, a citizen of Tajikistan, 35, a loader at Cherkizovsky market. On May 25, 1998 his passport was confiscated by officers of the 16th Militia Office.

Documents often “disappear” at militia offices. In response to deputies’ inquiries and appeals by “Civic Assistance”, officials usually deny that documents have been confiscated.

If a person originating from the Caucasus has obtained registration in Moscow, a peaceful existence living in rented accommodation or at the home of relatives or friends is not guaranteed. Registration ensures his being permanently in sight of the militia and at any time of day or night an “operative group” can come to his residence and demand that they be allowed to enter. Neither Russian citizenship nor Moscow registration nor a permanent long-term job in Moscow can protect people from such invasions if there is information at the passport office that this Moscow inhabitant is a Chechen. An “operative group” (usually men in civilian clothes) having entered the apartment behave rudely, frighten and often beat the inhabitants, and sometimes plant illegal items for the purpose of extortion or laying charges. For example, on April 29, 1999, Mr. Kh. Makhmaev and his wife Mrs. E. Jabrailova were illegally arrested and beaten. Mrs. Jabrailova describes the events as follows:

“About 7 p.m. somebody rang the door of the apartment where I live with my husband. I went to the door and asked: ”Who is there?". A man answered, saying he was a neighbor. As soon as I opened the door, I was struck in the face, near my chin, by a metal object. Then I was struck against a wall, thrown onto a back of a bed and then almost immediately shoved into the bathroom, and again my head was struck against a wall.

When I came to my senses, the light in the bathroom was off, in the other room the T.V. set was blaring and I could hear moans and the sound of blows. My husband was being beaten in the room. I managed to get out of the bathroom and the apartment and ran into the street and began to cry “Help! Militia!”. I was overtaken by two of the men who had beaten us; they seized me, twisted my hands behind my back, covered my face with one of their hands and pulled me by my hair up to the fourth floor (we live on the second floor).

In the apartment, these men handcuffed me and my husband and, covering our mouths, dragged us downstairs into a car.

In the car my head was wrapped up in a jean jacket. I was suffocating and asked them to take it off, but they answered: “Doesn’t matter, you’re not going to die”. The whole time they were cursing obscenely. The car did not move for about an hour. We could hear a conversation, with someone saying over a radio: “...if she twitches, kill her”. The men sitting in the car said to one to another: “He is paid for, but how much will relatives pay for her, do you think?” The other answered: “It depends on what she is.”

Then the car started to move, but I didn’t know where we were going because I was blindfolded. When we arrived, they took off the handcuffs, saying they were needed for someone else, and moved me to the car where my husband was. After about an hour, they brought our acquaintance Said. My husband was moved to another car and Said was pushed into the trunk. From the car where my husband was they asked over the radio what to do with me. One of them cried: “I’ll marry her right now”. Then they wanted to drop me off, in an unknown place, in the middle of the night. Later they left me near my place.

In two or three days, Mr. Shikin, a detective with the Zelenograd Internal  Affairs Department, called me and asked about the fate of my husband. Mr.  Shikin knows my husband because he was previously at our place during a  search. Before Shikin called, a man called and told me that my husband was  at the 5th Section of the South District Department of the Regional Organized Crime Directorate. At present my husband is being detained and an inquiry is  underway. I went to the Traumatology Center of City Polyclinic #65, where my  injuries could be recorded." (In the Traumatology Center, they diagnosed a  concussion; Mrs. Jabrailova’s vision is rapidly decreasing.)

Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms says: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Human rights violations on the basis of ethnic origin by the Moscow law enforcement bodies, primarily against Chechens, increased greatly and reached a truly massive scale after the Chechen war ended. On July 12, 1996, Mayor Luzhkov said while speaking about the explosion on a Moscow trolleybus that every Chechen must be removed from Moscow. A higher militia officer answered him: “Well, if you allow me, I’ll surely bring terror into the streets.” “Yes,” said Mr. Luzhkov, “drive out the entire Chechen diaspora.” In this way, numerous T.V. viewers witnessed the Mayor of the capital sanctioning the illegal actions of the militia (“terror in the streets”). Moscow Chechens while in detention often heard from Internal Affairs Ministry officers that the Chechen war had not yet finished; it continued in Moscow. Of course, it was a war against unarmed peaceful Moscow inhabitants and visitors: “persons of Caucasian nationality”.

Moscow human rights organizations registered a number of actions in 1996-1999 by law enforcement bodies against Chechens and Ingushetians: “checks”, arrests and searches that were accompanied by assault and battery and insults to individuals’ national dignity. The following are several examples.

On December 7, 1997, detectives of the Investigation Department of the Federal Security Service (FSB) M.V. Bodrov, S.V. Mazein, V.A. Timoshin, D.V. Shevchenko, M.V. Matveev, A.M. Korotkov and P.I. Kotelnikov, in collaboration with an officer of the Moscow Regional Organized Crime Directorate (RUOP), Mr. Beloborodov and others, conducted searches of the apartments of several Chechens without the sanction of a prosecutor. Although nothing illegal was found during the searches, all the Chechens (about 40 women and 50 men), including those with registration and living permanently in Moscow, were taken to the Moscow RUOP. They were held at the RUOP from the morning until 9 p.m. While there, the detained were beaten professionally, i.e. in such a way that no signs remained. The FSB and RUOP officers cursed people obscenely, humiliated them and, for unknown reasons, took photographs of them under the Chechen flag. The actions of the officers, described in the statements of victims, attest that the only basis for the searches and detention of the 90 persons was their ethnic origin. Not one of them was examined in connection with any legal violation and all of them were released at 9 p.m.

On December 29, 1997, at about 10 p.m., SOBR (Special Rapid Response Unit) and RUOP detachments burst into 10 rooms at the hostel of the Nations Friendship University where students of Caucasian origin were living. With guns and clubs they forced the students (about 20 of them) to lie down on the floor, and began to beat them, attacking Chechens particularly brutally. The RUOP officers uttered national and religious insults and opened cupboards and table drawers to find personal photographs of the students. Then all the students were delivered to the Obruchevsky District militia office on Miklukho-Maklay Street. The victims attest that the office was full of Caucasians that night. There the students were again beaten by the SOBR officers, with the Chechens being beaten particularly keenly and brutally. The officers again uttered national and religious insults, saying that it was “for Chechnya”. The SOBR officers conducted the beatings, while the militia officers were completely indifferent and did not interfere. Then the students’ names were again taken down, they were recorded on video and their passports were taken away. After two hours, the beaten students, including eight Chechens in grave condition, were returned to the hostel. Passports were returned to some of them only after five days.

On April 8, 1998 ten masked RUOP officers burst into the Kedrov Street apartment where Mr. Amur Amerkhanov, a student of the Shchukin Superior Theater School, lived. Mr. Amerkhanov was absent, but a female student from the same school was there (she was later forced to sign a search record as the landlord of the apartment). A senior lieutenant of the militia, N.V. Kazantsev, was among the RUOP officers. The search was carried out roughly and objects were broken, torn and trampled. The Ingush national flag that had been hanging on the wall was torn down, trampled upon and torn into pieces, and the remnants carried out. The search took an hour. Students of the Shchukin School, Mr. Amerkhanov, Mr. Komurzoev and Mr. Dzangiev, who arrived separately after 10 p.m. were rudely pulled into the apartment, beaten and mocked. According to the search record, two videocassettes and two audio cassettes were seized. The students claim that 30 videocassettes of school records of rehearsals, about 50 audio cassettes and a professional Panasonic M-25 video camera were taken.

At about 1 a.m., the students were carried to the South District RUOP in Nagatino, where they found an additional 30 Ingushetians who had been taken there from different parts of Moscow. There they were also beaten, humiliated and jeered. The students were released at 7 a.m. and they went to the school. The Rector, Mr. V.M. Etush, and the Deputy Rector, Mr. Kulish, together with the students went to the Head of the South District RUOP, Mr. Vasiliev. The latter, according to Mr. Etush, expressed near-pathological hatred toward Ingushetians.

On June 10, 1998 at 7 p.m., a football match between student teams of the Plekhanov Academy was scheduled to be held on the Academy football field. Between 6 and 7 p.m., participants and fans began to gather near the field. Among them there were members of the student team “Vaynakh”, which was organized by students originating from Ingushetia and Chechnya. At around 6.50 p.m., a group of about 25 people in masks and black uniforms with an inscription on the back stating “MVD RF” (Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation) or in civilian clothes rapidly approached the field from all sides. All of them were armed with automatic guns or pistols. Uttering cries and obscenities, they forced the Ingushetians and Chechens, about 50 of them, to separate from the others. The MVD officers searched them, beating and cursing them and uttering national and religious insults. After the search and document check, each student, prodded by blows, was quickly brought to a man with a video camera. Each detainee was forced to rapidly and clearly provide his full name, address and place of birth. One of the detainees was wearing a shirt with an image of the Chechen flag and coat of arms. He was beaten and his shirt was torn to pieces. The person at the head of the operation was in civilian clothes without a mask, and he also beat the students. When everyone was recorded on video, the detainees were taken to the 1st Militia Office (Kozhevnicheskaya Street, 26) escorted by officers of this office. Here they were left in the yard, and called one by one into the office, where their documents were checked, then released. The last detainee was released at 9 p.m. All the actions on the football field were carried out in front of Academy students of other ethnic origins.

Protests from the Ingush “Memorial” and deputies’ inquiries were sent to the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office. In reply to an inquiry by State Duma Deputy Mr. S.A. Kovalyov, the Moscow Prosecutor Mr. S.I. Gerasimov stated that the raid of the MVD officers at the football field was precipitated by a call to the “02" service of the Moscow Main Department of Internal Affairs. An unknown citizen attested that ”a fight is planned on June 10, 1998 at 7.20 p.m. at School #555 between citizens of Chechen origin, about 40 men, who have drugs... The officers took measures to establish the purpose of the gathering of persons of Caucasian nationality and check their documents, and carried out an examination to look for weapons, ammunition and drugs. After that, the persons of Caucasian nationality were delivered to the 1st Militia Office... The Prosecutor’s Office acknowledged the illegality of the transfer of 42 citizens. In this regard, a submission was made to the Head of the Main Department of Internal Affairs of Moscow city... Operative Commissioner of the Criminal Investigation Department Mr. V.V. Kishchenko made insulting statements to the citizens of Caucasian nationality. He was reprimanded for this by the Head of the Central Administrative District RUOP, Mr. V.V. Baranov... The request to open a case against the militia officers on the basis of Article 5, Paragraph 2 of the RSFSR Criminal Procedural Code is refused by the Zamoskvoretsky Inter-district Prosecutor’s Office."

With regard to the search and assault and battery of students at the Shchukin School the answer was: “...During the check it was established that the search was made according to existing laws and the statements made about loss of personal property have not been confirmed... During the investigation and while arresting citizens of Ingush nationality for the commission of administrative violations, no force was used”.

On December 22, 1998, at about 8 a.m., officers of the 94th Militia Office conducted a search in an apartment rented by students M. Malsagov, M.-S. Malsagov, T. Ekazhev and M. Nalgiev without sanction of the prosecutor and without witnesses. After six officers had been in the apartment for two hours, witnesses were invited in and drugs and explosives were seized. After two days at the 94th Militia Office, Nalgiev and Ekazhev were released after a report of their administrative detention was drawn up; M. Malsagov and M.-S. Malsagov were arrested on the basis of Article 122 of the RSFSR Criminal Procedural Code.

On March 17, 1999 the Head of the Internal Affairs Office “Donskoy” of Moscow’s South-East District, Colonel of the Militia O.N. Shilyuk sent an official request to the General Director of the “Geofizpribor” company to “provide a list of employees of Chechen nationality”, indicating everyone’s full name, year and place of birth, full passport data, registration address and home address, place of work and position, office and home phone number.

On April 16, 1999 the General Representative of the President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in the Russian Federation, Mr. E. Ibragimov, issued a declaration in which he reported the persecution of persons of Chechen origin in Moscow on the basis of their nationality in the framework of crime prevention.

In response, the Main Department of Moscow’s Internal Affairs Directorate issued a declaration classifying the actions of the officers of the Moscow militia as “necessary measures to ensure the security of Muscovites and visitors to the capital”. Nevertheless, “in this particular case, the Moscow’s Internal Affairs Directorate qualifies the actions of the Head of Internal Affairs Office ”Donskoy" as professionally in error. The Main Department extends its apologies to every loyal citizen of Chechen Republic living in Moscow".

Nevertheless, persecution of Chechens and Ingushetians by the law enforcement bodies continues in Moscow as before and became even more severe after the military operations in Dagestan began. As before, those illegally detained in the streets for “checks” are expected to pay arbitrary sums of money. The cases of planting weapons, cartridges and drugs into the pockets of the detained citizens became more frequent.

During so-called operation “Terek” on August 19, 1999, two men of Ingush origin, M. Didigov, a student of the faculty of law of one of the Moscow institutes, and M.-B. Khamatkhanov, a skilled kickboxer who had come to Moscow in preparation for a competition, were arrested on the institute campus. A large crowd witnessed the arrest. Both of them were forced to lie on the pavement and examined. After the search, they were handcuffed and taken to the Strong Point of Militia, and then to the District Organized Crime Directorate (ROBOP). During the second search, an RG-42 grenade was taken from Khamatkhanov. Khamatkhanov declared in the presence of witnesses that the grenade was planted by a militia officer and refused to sign the search record. In the ROBOP, they and two other Ingush students were beaten and forced to remain on their knees for about 24 hours. After that, Didigov was searched in the ROBOP and heroin was found. The officers, not hiding their satisfaction, announced that the days’ plan had been fulfilled. For 24 hours the arrested were humiliated and not permitted to contact relatives. Then M. Didigov and M.-B. Khanatkhanov were imprisoned in Detention Center #2. Their placement in custody was sanctioned by the Acting Prosecutor of Moscow’s South-West Administrative District, Senior Legal Counsel V.P. Yudin. Because many people had seen that the search at the time of the arrest on campus had had no result, the President of the Ingush “Memorial” Mrs. M. Yandieva appealed to the Russian Minister of Internal Affairs Mr. V. Rushaylo with a request to release Mr. Didigov and Mr. Khamatkhanov and assess the actions of the officers of the ROBOP who had made the arrest. The President of the Republic of Ingushetia Mr. R. Aushev was informed about these facts. As a result Mr. Didigov and Mr. Khamatkhanov, still at the Detention Center, were promised that the case would be closed if each of them paid 30,000 rubles.

Moscow markets are places where unskilled workers are constantly needed, and hence they attract numerous migrants. Even those who speak Russian badly, or indeed not at all, usually young or middle-aged men from villages, are used as additional labor. Most of the merchants are also migrants, mostly Azeris. Therefore, markets attract those in the habit of profiting off migrants. Racketeers can be employees of private security services, officers of the militia offices that control the territories where these markets are located or groups of Russian fascists. The mechanism of the market racket is well organized and its participants do not prevent each other from gathering contributions. And so no victims - neither merchants nor workers - even consider appealing to the militia for protection.

In the summer of 1998, a member of the “Memorial” Human Rights Center who studied the situation at the Luzhniki market in connection with the murder of Azeri citizen A. Nagiev, observed that militia officers went to Azeris, checked their documents and put them in their pockets and lead the people somewhere. To a question of the “Memorial” member, the Azeris explained that this is a normal procedure, and there is almost no reason to fear for the detainees: “You pay 50,000 [non-denominated rubles] and then return.” A similar situation at another market - Izmaylovsky - was described by journalist Mrs. A. Politkovskaya in her article “The history of a swastika” (“Novaya Gazeta”). There, however, militia catch Tajiks to gather “taxes”, while the market guards’ role is to advise the militia where and when the market workers receive their pay. After a talk with the guards, the journalist was convinced that these people were Russian national-socialists, and that they were working in contact with the local militia. The guards stressed that this collaboration is based on mutual ideological understanding. Their common slogan is “Moscow is for Muscovites, not for ‘Blacks’”.

The year the war ended in Chechnya, 1996, was notable for mass actions in markets by the Moscow law enforcement bodies. Hundreds of people of Caucasian origin were subjected to often very cruel beatings, injured, insulted and robbed. Here is a far from complete chronicle of these events.

On February 15, 1996 a mass beating of citizens of the Republic of Dagestan took place at the Marfino market. During a raid by an OMON detachment, citizens were beaten with rifle butts, one of whom sustained a broken leg. In freezing weather, they were forced to hold on to a iron pipe for a long time (this episode was shown by T.V.) and lie on the ground. They were beaten on the ground, then lead to a bus where the assault and battery continued. The victims wrote an appeal to Head of Moscow’s Main Department of Internal Affairs, Mr. M.V. Kulikov. This appeal was signed by 216 people. After that, the citizens who signed the appeal refused to provide evidence, fearing persecution from the militia. The reply from the Butyrsky Municipal Prosecutor’s Office said: “The facts described in the appeal received no objective confirmation. The request to open a case is refused.”

On July 18, 1996, during an operation carried out by militia officers at the Cherkizovsky market, 10 citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan were beaten and their Moscow registration certificates destroyed. The militia officers extorted money from the detainees. The detainees were taken to Moscow’s 30th Militia Office. The events were investigated by the Inspector on Staff of the Department of Internal Affair of the East District. A reply to the inquiry made by Deputy Mr. Igrunov stated that the officers of the Department carried out “measures to check the observance of the passport-visa order... As to the claims of assault and battery during their implementation and of extortion of money by the militia officers, the Prosecutor’s Office of the East Administrative District has decided to refuse to open a case.”

On July 25, 1996 during an operation carried out by OMON, RUOP and SOBR detachments at the Krasnogvardeysky market, dozens of citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan were beaten and teargassed, goods worth tens of millions of rubles were looted and confiscated, tens of millions of rubles were seized and merchandise documents, passports and registration certificates were destroyed. The detainees were taken to the 40th Militia Office. One of the victims, Mr. E.M. Babaev, was taken to a hospital in grave condition. The Russian Television program “Vesti” covered this event.

On July 29, 1996, OMON officers at the Shchukinsky market beat Azeri citizens, seized without record about 15 million rubles and destroyed registration certificates. The Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan appealed to the Prosecutor’s Office of the North-West Administrative Office and demanded that a case be opened. In reply to an inquiry by Duma Deputy Mr. V.Igrunov, the Moscow City Prosecutor’s Office stated that the victims had failed to appear to prosecutor’s offices. “The location of the claimants is unknown, and those whose addresses are known claim that unknown people are calling them and threatening them.”

Similar actions, with beating, insults, looting of goods and destruction of documents, were carried out by different militia detachments and sections at the Biryulyovsky market (on August 8, 1996) and at the Lefortovsky market (on August 11, 1996). In both cases the prosecutor’s offices refused to open cases against the militia officers.

Brutal actions at Moscow markets in 1996 were usually carried out under the legal cover of “carrying out measures of control of the passport-visa regime” according to the direction of the Mayor #637 of 11/05/93. In 1999, such a cover probably became unnecessary, as is illustrated by the action of officers of law enforcement bodies on June 17, 1999 at the Pechatniki market.

At about 10.30 a.m., a group of about 15 people in civilian clothes appeared on the territory of the market. Without showing any documents, these people rushed to the Azeri merchants and began to beat them with the handles of gas pistols and iron rods wrapped in paper. Several shots were fired in the direction of the unarmed merchants. The Azeris undertook self-defense measures and as a result, the aggressors flew, losing their weapons. Four Azeri representatives gathered the pistols and spent cartridge-cases and went to the Head of the 112th Militia Office to make a complaint.

Within an hour, a group of 60 men arrived at the market. They blocked all the exits and again began to beat the Azeris. They accompanied the beatings with insults, demands for them to leave Russia and appeals to other people to take part in the “cleaning”. The Azeris, mostly fruit and vegetable merchants, received serious injuries. Five of them were taken to resuscitation sections of Moscow hospitals.

The Azeris were then taken to the 112th Militia Office. There they were again beaten with iron rods and robbed. This took place in the presence of a general-major of the Internal Affairs Ministry who asked the detainees why they had come. As for the four representatives who took the pistols and cartridge-cases to the 112th Militia Office, militia officers planted in their pockets things that looked like balls wrapped in foil in front of witnesses. Then they were accused of illegal possession of drugs.

The passports and registration certificates of 36 arrested Azeris were destroyed, and their owners were sent to the detention centers for persons without definite place of residence. The Prosecutor’s Office brought an action against six citizens of Azerbaijan on the basis of two  articles of the Criminal Code.

Violent actions of extremist groups

According to data from the All-Russian Center of Public Opinion Studies, about 40-50% of the population of Russia harbor xenophobic attitudes. In Moscow, the level is even higher because it is fed by the “Caucasophobic” propaganda of authorities, the cruel actions of the militia against “Blacks” and their neutral, if not sympathetic, attitude to the actions of skinheads.

On April 20, 1998 unknown individuals called the editorial offices of several Moscow newspapers and said that from the next day on (Hitler’s birthday) they would “kill one Black every day”. The next day, groups of skinheads armed with clubs, brass-knuckles and knives began to attack “non-Slavic” people (Africans, Hindus, Vietnamese, Uzbeks, Azeris) in the vicinity of the Peoples’ Friendship University, Moscow State University, their hostels, in the metro, at Pushkin Square, on the Arbat and so on. During these attacks, the militia usually did not interfere, refusing requests of passers-by to do so. Not far from the Danilovsky market, the body of an African man was found in a sewage manhole. Near the Arbat, a pregnant Hindu woman was beaten. She subsequently had a miscarriage. The embassies of Benin, the Republic of South Africa and Sudan directed official complaints to the Russian Foreign Ministry. The United States Embassy warned its citizens about the possibility of hooligan attacks against African-Americans. On May 2 in Filyovsky park an African-American official of the U.S. Embassy was beaten by a group of skinheads. As a result, for the first time, a case was brought against the initiator of the attack - a member of the group “Russian goal” and an inhabitant of Moscow Region - under the article covering “arousing racial hate with using violence” (punishable with up to 5 years of prison).

On May 7, 1998 an attack of a gang of skinheads on the Azeri merchants at the Luzhniki market ended in the murder of an additional worker at the market, an inhabitant of Gyandja, Mr. Asaf Nagiev, born in 1973. The murder took place in the presence and with the connivance of militia officers, who observed the fight that led to the murder. Moreover, the bandits asked these officers to give them a radio transmitter to call for reinforcements. After the death of Mr. A. Nagiev, the Azeris who traded at the market held a spontaneous demonstration and carried out an unsanctioned procession conveying Mr. Nagiev’s corpse along Komsomolsky Prospect, where they were dispersed by the OMON.

The Head of the Main Department of Internal Affairs Mr. N.Kulikov said in this regard that “the capital militia will not allow anybody to take such actions in Moscow and will use the most severe measures”. Of course, this declaration was only directed against Azeris who dared to disturb the peace of the Moscow authorities with their actions.



This article was taken from the web site of "Memorial" Human Rights Center. Also available at http://www.memo.ru




Copyright © 2002 [Anton G.]. All rights reserved. Все права защищены.



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