06MOSCOW10502, THE IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE IN MOSCOW, PART ONE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW10502 2006-09-20 12:35 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4355
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #0502/01 2631235
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 201235Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2594
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 010502 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/19/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KDEM RS
SUBJECT: THE IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE IN MOSCOW, PART ONE 
 
Classified By: Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs Alice Wells. 
Reasons: 1.4(B/D). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY. This is part one of a two-part series on the 
typical experiences of immigrants in Moscow.  The current 
cable describes the experiences of a partly disabled Chechen 
male who has lived on and off in Moscow for the past 20 
years. The second cable relates the experiences of a Kazakh 
female who is a newcomer to Moscow.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (C) The subject of this cable, Adam, is a highly educated 
construction engineer who graduated from Moscow State 
University in 1991.  He lived in Moscow during the First 
Chechen War, worked in Eastern Europe for a few years, and 
spent the Second Chechen War in Grozny.  He currently lives 
and works in Moscow and sends money to his mother, wife, and 
three daughters who live in Grozny.  Adam has been classified 
since childhood with a second-tier disability (severe and 
permanent) because of his poor eyesight. 
 
--------------------------------------- 
Registration With The Interior Ministry 
--------------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) The problem of getting registered anywhere outside the 
Chechen Republic is very acute for Chechens. A landlord has 
to be strongly motivated and have a good knowledge of the 
laws and stamina to get the police to register a Chechen at 
his place of residence.  The absence of registration creates 
numerous problems for Chechen migrants.  They are often 
denied access to free medical services, although the law 
guarantees provision of urgent medical help. Getting a job 
with a legitimate employment contract and receiving state 
benefits and pensions become nearly impossible in the absence 
of registration. Enrolling children in kindergarten and 
school also becomes more difficult.  Adam said his daughters 
were denied enrollment at several kindergartens and started 
school late because of the length of time and difficulties he 
had obtaining registration. 
 
4. (C) Often police officers, who are obliged to regularly 
visit homes where Chechens reside, threaten rental landlords 
with trouble.  As a result, landlords often reject 
"inconvenient" tenants or allow them to rent housing, but 
without registration.  Rents are often increased for North 
Caucasians by USD 200-300 per month.  Adam said he was 
rejected by landlords many times in the 1990s because "they 
didn't want his sort of person living in the building."  When 
he tried to rent a private room in a dormitory, the landlord 
told him he had to provide an update about the tenants every 
week for the "structures," making Adam too much trouble at 
any price. 
 
5. (C) Even when landlords give their consent, the struggle 
to get registered can last for months, if not years. 
Registration of Chechens is often accompanied by a 
humiliating procedure, which includes getting a permit for 
registration from the head of the local police precinct, a 
special check for a criminal record, compulsory 
fingerprinting, and a mugshot.  Adam confirmed that this was 
the procedure he was subjected to.  His sister, who has lived 
in Moscow most of her life and is married to a non-Chechen, 
was visited 3-4 times a week by the police while he was in 
the registration process (prior to that she was visited 3-4 
times a year).  If a registration certificate is ultimately 
issued, a file is created on virtually every Chechen, like 
those created for criminals. 
 
6. (C) These files are used to track Chechens, particularly 
when a terrorist attack happens.  For example, following the 
Dubrovka theater incident in 2002, monitoring of legal 
Chechens increased dramatically in addition to mass 
"cleansings" of illegal Chechens and others in Moscow from 
the North Caucasus, Adam said.  Chechen residences were 
visited more frequently, cellphones were checked to see what 
calls had been made to and from them, and phones were tapped. 
 
 
---------------------------- 
Obtaining Benefits Difficult 
---------------------------- 
 
7. (C) Benefits without a registration certificate are 
granted only to those people from Chechnya who were 
registered as benefits receivers outside Chechnya before 
December 1997.  All remaining residents of Chechnya, 
including those who left after hostilities resumed in August 
1999, can get registered to receive benefits outside the 
republic only if they have a residence registration and a 
benefits file.  Adam who has poor vision has been classified 
since childhood as having a second-tier disability and was 
eligible to be in the former category since he received 
 
MOSCOW 00010502  002 OF 003 
 
 
benefits while he was at university.  However, when Adam 
moved back to Moscow, it took him almost six months on top of 
his struggle for registration to be enrolled to receive 
disability benefits.  During the process, he was accused of 
having a fake disability certificate (even though it is 
obvious he has difficulty seeing) and of submitting falsified &#x000
A;documents.  But only after he threatened several times to 
take the Social Benefits Department to court did he begin to 
receive the benefits.  Adam said he was fortunate because he 
knew the laws and normative acts governing disability 
benefits, which are confusing and complicated, better than 
many new migrants.  He said many give up because they are 
deceived and bullied by the authorities and because they 
don't know their rights well enough to persist. 
 
---------------------- 
Problems Finding A Job 
---------------------- 
 
8. (C) Although Adam is highly educated and motivated, after 
the First Chechen War from 1994-1996, he found it nearly 
impossible to get a job in Moscow.  Once prospective 
employers looked at his passport and saw that he was Chechen, 
they frequently rejected him even though he was qualified for 
the job.  He was told "we don't want any problems for the 
firm because the police will keep checking up on you." So he 
spent the mid-1990s working in Eastern Europe, where he said 
he encountered no discrimination.  He returned to Chechnya in 
1998 and stayed there for part of the second war to support 
his elderly parents.  He returned to Moscow in mid-1999 to 
earn money to send back to his family, who stayed in Grozny. 
 
9. (C) The best job Adam could find on returning to Moscow 
was as a nightwatchman for a retail store.  He was on duty at 
the store when the first apartment building was blown up in 
September 1999.  The police visited the store -- only a few 
blocks from the apartment building -- hours later as part of 
the initial investigation into the bombing.  Adam said he was 
treated well until they checked his passport.  When they 
discovered that he was Chechen, they brought in OMON troops 
who searched the store and started removing items.  They beat 
Adam when he protested that merchandise could not be removed 
from store without notifying the owner.  Adam was taken to 
the local police precinct and was told repeatedly that drugs 
would be planted on him if he did not admit to a role in the 
bombing.  After being held incommunicado for almost 24 hours, 
they finally let him go.  He was fired from that job a short 
time later. 
 
10. (C) Although no one claimed responsibility for the 
bombings, Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov announced "Operation 
Whirlwind," enlisting over 20,000 law enforcement officials 
to undertake a massive anti-terror campaign.  The operation 
ultimately rounded up 20,000 non-Muscovites, mostly ethnic 
minorities primarily from the Caucasus, and resulted in the 
expulsion of approximately 10,000 individuals who reportedly 
did not possess valid residence registration papers.  Adam 
said that he felt lucky to "only lose his job and be subject 
to frequent identity checks" and not be expelled like many 
other Chechens. 
 
11. (C) Adam said he was hired for his current well-paying 
job as Marketing and Sales Director at a pharmaceutical 
manufacturing company because the owner was a college friend 
who knew of his difficulties.  He said if he did not have 
this job, the only alternatives open to him would be to 
either return to Grozny or menial labor.  He said he was 
feeling secure at the moment because he had a good job and a 
strong support network of Chechen and non-Chechen friends who 
would be able to help him if he ever ran afoul of the police. 
 
 
------------------------- 
Discrimination In Society 
------------------------- 
 
12. (C) According to a 2006 study by the Open Society 
Institute, riders on the Moscow Metro who appear non-Slavic 
are twenty times more likely to be stopped by police than 
those who look Slavic.  Riders who appear non-Slavic make up 
less than five percent of all Moscow Metro users but account 
for over half of all people stopped by the Moscow Metro 
police. However, the study found that police stops uncover 
administrative document violations only three percent of the 
time, which calls into question the effectiveness of ethnic 
profiling for migration and anti-terrorist measures. Adam 
said that his personal record for being stopped by police was 
10 times in a week, but that the last time he was stopped was 
in May.  In his opinion, the situation was worse 3-4 years 
ago.  The police are better at ethnic profiling now, he 
thought, and are targeting working-class migrants from 
everywhere -- not just Chechnya -- more frequently and 
 
MOSCOW 00010502  003 OF 003 
 
 
leaving alone well-dressed, middle-class Chechens. 
 
13. (C) Adam's daughters spent several years in Moscow before 
returning to Grozny.  While in pre-school and kindergarten in 
Moscow, many of their classmates would use ethnic slurs 
without really knowing their meaning.  They were simply 
repeating what their parents were saying at home.  As the 
daughters got older, teachers treated them more harshly than 
their classmates.  They were given lower grades because they 
would "eventually go back to Chechnya and didn't need good 
grades there." 
 
14. (C) COMMENT. The level of xenophobia has ebbed and flowed 
with the Chechen wars and terrorist attacks in Moscow and 
other Russian cities.  While Adam's case is somewhat 
complicated by his disability, he made it clear that his 
experiences with getting registered, renting an apartment, 
finding a job, and being racially profiled were par for the 
course for Chechen men in Moscow.  He said if he could 
support his family by working in Grozny, he would move back, 
but for now he can make much more money in Moscow.  This 
continued discrimination of immigrants, particularly from the 
North Caucasus, is increasingly at odds with Putin's declared 
policy from May 2006 to "stimulate immigration to Russia," 
but it is in line with periodic opinion polls conducted by 
the Levada Center.  In 2005, 58 percent of respondents 
categorically objected to foreigners buying apartments in 
Russia.  Between 41 and 46 percent have consistently 
responded in polls over the last few years that ethnic 
Russians in Russia are poorer than members of other ethnic 
groups; only 6-9 percent think otherwise.  As recently as 
August 2006, 51 percent of respondents believe that "ethnic 
minorities wield too much power in Russia." 
BURNS

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