At the time of the Covid-19 outbreak, the “regime of self-isolation” was imposed in the Russian Federation. But a large number of migrant labourers from the “near abroad” (the neighbouring post-Soviet countries) mainly those from Central Asia, remained.
Many of them ended up in limbo. According to Russian state legislation, citizens of other countries must be deported to their countries of origin if they don’t have a visa or other permission to stay in Russia.
Because of pandemic restrictions the borders of the Russian Federation closed, which meant that even the deportation of foreigners did not seem possible.
Instead of supporting migrants left without work and providing them with the necessities of life until the borders reopened, Russian authorities locked them up for months with no meaningful connection with the outside world and their families.
In this detention, inhuman conditions reign – disgusting food, lack of private space, the impossibility of personal hygiene and constant refusals to provide medical care.
In NizhnyNovgorod (the third largest city in the Russian Federation, close to Moscow) people from the Central Asian republics are tired of putting up with this arbitrary treatment by migrant services.
Here, in a special detention centre for foreign citizens awaiting deportation, migrants staged a mass hunger strike and sit-in.
By court order they were supposed to be expelled from the Russian Federation within three weeks. But this hasn’t happened for four to six weeks already, and in some cases eight to nine months.
The strikers’ demands are that they either finally be allowed to return home, or be released on bail.
Our group supports these demands. We ask for help in disseminating information about what is going on in the Nizhny Novgorod special detention centre and about the situation of migrant labour in Russia in general.