Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Central Asians, North Caucasians Increasingly Clash in Moscow

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 6 – Often violent, even deadly clashes between criminal groups consisting of North Caucasians and those made up of Central Asians are an increasing feature of life in Moscow, the result of the crisis in the Russian economy and the ever more salient differences between these two communities.

            The latest, four days, ago between Tajiks and Chechens, claimed six lives; but such battles have become so frequent, Asamat Dadayev of OnKavkaz says, that they seldom attract the kind of media attention that would allow Muscovites to make distinctions but only enough to generate xenophobia and fear (

                That is because the two groups fit into a single narrative: Muslim gastarbeiters from Central Asia and the Caucasus do not fit into Russian life and represent a threat to the Russian community, a view that is once again spreading after it was briefly eclipsed by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the Crimean Anschluss.

            In fact, of course, these two groups are very different as are as solutions to the problem.  Gastarbeiters from Central Asia increasingly do not know Russian and are the citizens of foreign countries who can be excluded by means of visa restrictions, while North Caucasians do know Russian and have Russian citizenship, something that makes it harder to keep them out.

            That gives the North Caucasians certain advantages, advantages that are increased by the power of Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov to challenge any Russian official who goes after members of his nation; and it is entirely possible that the North Caucasians are now using such advantages – and that their use of them threatens the Central Asians and is causing these clashes.

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