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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 21:21 GMT
Moscow to deport Tajiks by air
Police search train arrived from Chechnya at a Moscow railway station
Security crackdowns have hit migrants from the south
More than 70 Tajiks are due to be deported from the Moscow region on a military jet this week after being declared illegal immigrants.

The authorities in Moscow Province are paying for the special flight due to leave on Thursday night under an agreement with the air force, Russia's Itar-Tass news agency reports.

Russia's Tajiks
650,000 now live in Russia - Tajikistan's own population is just over 6 m
80% of working population engaged in low-paid jobs
Data from International Organisation for Migration in Tajikistan and Varorud newspaper
There is concern in Tajikistan that the recent Chechen attack on a Moscow theatre is creating hostility towards expatriates who form one of Russia's most vulnerable Muslim communities.

This year has also witnessed a string of lethal street attacks on Tajiks, who often stand out as dark-skinned foreigners.

An air force Il-76 transport aircraft is due to airlift the deportees out of Moscow's Chkalovsky aerodrome, provincial officials told Itar-Tass.

They are being expelled for "violating ID and visa regulations", the officials at the Provincial ID and Visa Service said, on the basis of a decree issued by Provincial Governor Boris Gromov on 5 November ordering the deportation of all unregistered residents.

String of murders

Russian railway police say a Tajik man working in Moscow city was kicked to death by a gang after being pushed off a suburban train on Sunday evening as he was travelling home.

Tajik men
Tajik men often stand out from the crowd in Russia
Pushed out onto the platform at Radonezh, the man was set upon by nine teenagers, three of them girls, who reportedly used him as a human "football", police told Interfax news agency. Police made three arrests.

In other, apparently random attacks on Tajiks living in Russia this year:

  • Four teenage girls were arrested for the murder of a 54-year-old Tajik man whose badly beaten body was found in Troytsk, Moscow Province, on 30 September

  • A 24-year-old Tajik man was beaten to death by a gang at a railway station in Moscow's Vykhino district on 30 August

  • A Tajik man was beaten to death by skinheads in the Siberian region of Surgut in April 2002. Police made a number of arrests

  • Bokhsho Lashkarbekov, a Tajik community leader in Moscow, was severely beaten along with his son and another man on 12 May by a gang on a suburban train near Kuskovo station.

Many Tajiks arrived in Russia in the 1990s to escape the civil war and disintegrating economy in their home country after the collapse of the USSR.

The Tajik Government is one of Moscow's closest allies among the ex-Soviet states but Tajiks living in Russia are technically foreign citizens, unlike other Muslim groups such as Tatars or Chechens.

A recent article in a Tajik newspaper, Varorud, voiced fear that the recent Chechen hostage-taking in Moscow would "stir up anti-Islamic feeling in Russia... although the incident had nothing to do with the Tajik nation".

See also:

06 Oct 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
12 Jul 02 | Country profiles
28 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
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