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Moscow riot highlights urgent need for Russian government to develop action plan for migrant protection and integration

16 October 2013

Minority Rights Group Europe (MRGE) is deeply concerned about Sunday’s riot in Moscow as the incident represents a pattern of increasing violence against migrants and visible minorities in the Russian Federation. The Russian government should be prompted to take long-term action to eliminate any threat posed to its migrant and minority communities, says MRG.

“There is an alarming increase in the number of violent racially-motivated attacks in Russian cities against people with roots mostly in the Caucasus and Central Asia,” says Neil Clarke, the Managing Director of Minority Rights Group Europe.

The recent riot took place on 13 October 2013 in the Biryulyovo area of Moscow, following a brutal killing of a young ethnic Russian man. The killing was attributed to a man identified as “a man with non-Slavic appearance“.

What started as a peaceful demonstration, demanding justice over the killing, soon turned into the violent riot of a group chanting racist slogans and vandalizing shops and other sites known for employing migrant workers in the Biryulyovo area.

“It was a horrific sight – thousands of people, many of them with their faces covered, were running to the fruit and vegetable warehouse and crying out inflammatory slogans against migrants”, says Anastasia Denisova, member of the Coordinating Council of the Youth Human Rights Movement in Russia. “The capital centre turned into a battlefield.”

MRG appreciates that police took quick action in order to restore peace and public order and Russian officials apparently employed the necessary means to stop violence from spreading. The international human rights organization regrets, however, that there seems to be no long-term action-plan implemented to bring increasing anti-migrant violence to an end. The Russian government should set up effective mechanisms addressing complicated inter-ethnic relations in the Russian Federation and tailored to the current problems of minorities and migrants alike.

In recent years, there have been several violent attacks specifically targeting migrants in Russia* such as demonstrations against the Caucasus minorities in Saratov oblast in September 2013, disturbances between migrants and local communities in Kapotnya at the end of September 2013 and events at Maneznaya square at the end of 2010.

The Russian Government, according to the Russian Constitution (Article 19) bears responsibility for preserving equality for everyone irrespective of their race, gender, age, ethnicity and other grounds.

In the context of the Russian Federation’s continuing demand for migrant workers, the Russian authorities should systemically and consistently apply all available measures to tackle racially motivated violence, develop a long-term sustainable plan and adopt mechanisms and policies designed to address both the security and integration of migrants in Russia.

Notes to editors

  • Interview opportunities:

Darya Alekseeva, Russia Programmes Coordinator (also in Russian-Координатор проектов в России)

Neil Clarke, Managing Director of Minority Rights Group Europe

Anastasia Denisova, Member of the Coordinating Council of Youth Human Rights Movement / M: +79099757471 / [email protected]

  • Minority Rights Group International is the leading international human rights organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples. We work with more than 150 partners in over 50 countries.
  • To arrange interviews, please contact MRG’s Press Office:

Bernadett Sebály
T: +36 1 327 7032
M: +36 70 217 2601
E: [email protected]

*As of October 2020, the news article referred to here seems to have been permanently removed.