An anti-migrant protest erupted in Buzhaninovo, a village in the Moscow region, on the evening of September 13. This came after local news outlets published a letter from a reader, claiming that two migrant workers were detained on suspicion of raping and murdering a local woman. State investigators later confirmed the arrests in the murder case, laying charges against two unnamed foreign citizens on September 14. The crowd of several hundred demonstrators gathered outside of a migrant dormitory in the village and didn’t disperse until local officials promised to get the company that owns the dormitory to shut it down. The Moscow region’s governor later ordered the dormitory’s closure.
‘You’re almost the same age as my mom’
Around 6:00 p.m. local time on September 13, protesters in the village of Buzhaninovo began gathering outside of a two-story building, where a window company called “Ecookna” houses migrant workers. The demonstrators demanded a meeting with the chief of police and the closure of the dormitory.
Earlier in the day, the local news outlets Kopeika and and Alternativnaya Gazeta had published a letter from a reader, who claimed that two migrant workers were detained on suspicion of raping and murdering a woman in the area. Allegedly, the woman’s body was found in the woods near a railway track. Kopeika and Alternativnaya Gazeta also published anonymized photos of the alleged suspects, without disclosing the source of these images.
Estimates of the size of the crowd that gathered outside the dormitory varied. The Telegram channel Baza estimated that there were 200 protesters. Andrey Trofimov — a reporter for Alternativnaya Gazeta — said there were 300 people (as of 11:00 p.m.). Kommersant reported that according to eyewitnesses, there were a thousand people at the gathering at its peak.
In a video published by Alternativnaya Gazeta, a man claiming to be the son of the murdered woman can be seen demanding that the superintendent let him into the dormitory. “You’re almost the same age as my mom, who was killed,” he says. Another protester says that people had gathered outside the building in the early hours of the morning on September 13: “We stood here until five in the morning, waiting for some boss to explain everything. There was no one.” A source in law enforcement told the state news agency TASS that someone tried to break down the door to the dormitory that evening. The building was put under police protection.
On the night of September 13, state investigators confirmed the arrest of two foreign nationals (men in the thirties) as suspects in the rape and murder of a retired, 67-year-old woman. Sergiyevo-Posadsky municipal district head Mikhail Tokarev said that the suspects are both citizens of Tajikistan, who were working in construction. State investigators reported that the suspects had been charged on the morning of September 14.
‘The dormitory will be closed today’
The protesters dispersed around half past midnight, after representatives of the local administration came to speak with them. The officials promised to meet with representatives of Ecookna and get the company to shut down the migrant dormitory.
“Dear fellow countrymen! I urge you to stop. Lynching everyone based on their nationality is a mistake, which can generate a lot of aggression. The alleged criminals are in the hands of the justice [system],” said municipal district head Mikhail Tokarev. “We listened to the demands of the residents of Buzhaninov: on September 14, we will hold a meeting with the owner of the dormitory, we will demand its closure.”
Tokarev’s deputy, Oksana Yerokhanova, added that the police would send forces to patrol the streets of Buzhaninovo. The authorities also promised to look into the legality of the transfer of the dormitory building to Ecookna (it formerly housed the village club).
Later in the day on September 14, the Moscow region’s Governor Andrey Vorobyov ordered the closure of the dormitory for migrant workers in Buzhaninovo. “There are crimes that cause a special resonance with their cynicism, cruelty, and because people really boil over. The dormitory in Buzhaninovo, next to which this misfortune took place, will be closed today. If the residents are against it, [they] don’t belong there,” the governor wrote on his official Telegram channel.
Alternativnaya Gazeta reporter Andrey Trofimov said that he was threatened with criminal prosecution for covering the gathering in Buzhaninovov. “I’ve already received a call from the Moscow regional government and from various structures and they said that they want me to demonize me for this gathering, to open a criminal case for fomenting ethnic discord. I, of course, don’t foment any discord. I give locals the opportunity to convey their problems, their expectations, [and] their concerns to the authorities,” Trofimov said in the segment from the rally outside of the dormitory.
In March 2019, anti-migrant protests erupted in Yakutia after a migrant worker from Kyrgyzstan was accused of kidnapping and raping a woman in the city of Yakutsk. Against the backdrop of the protests, there were reports of threats and attacks against migrant workers, which led many people to stay home from work. Yakutia‘s Governor Aisen Nikolaev met with local residents and promised to combat illegal immigration and illegal business. Shortly afterward, he temporarily prohibited enterprises in the region from hiring foreign nationals in 33 different fields.
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We won’t give up Because you’re with us
I’m with you, Meduza
Translation by Eilish Hart