Russian police rounded up more than 1,600 immigrants in Moscow a day after rioting by nationalists over a fatal stabbing of a Russian that many residents blame on a man from the Caucasus region.
Some 200 residents rallied in the Biryulyovo district on Monday to call for tougher policing of labour migrants, in a second day of protests over the stabbing death of an ethnic Russian, 25-year-old Yegor Shcherbakov.
In apparent response, riot police rounded up 1,200 immigrants at a wholesale vegetable market in Biryulyovo which was the scene of attacks on workers on Sunday.
Another 450 were detained in northeastern Moscow, also near a vegetable market employing immigrant workers. Footage showed detainees standing against walls or lined up in front of police in camouflage clothing.
Police said they were all detained to check whether they were involved in any wrongdoing, but they have not been accused of any specific crime.
The riot on Sunday broke out with nationalist chants of “white power” and “Russia for Russians.” About 380 people were arrested after demonstrators smashed windows and set fire to shops.
Demonstrators were outraged over the murder on Thursday of a 25-year-old local man, Yegor Shcherbakov, who police say was stabbed as his fiancee, identified only by her first name Ksenya, watched.
Images caught on surveillance cameras suggested the killer could have been from Central Asia or the Caucasus.
Advocacy groups warned immigrants from those regions of an increased risk of attacks in the worst ethnic disturbance in Moscow in three years.
However, residents in Biryulyovo blamed the the immigrants for myriad crimes.
“We are scared to walk the streets at night,” said Alexei Zhuravlyov “They [immigrants] are always attacking, stealing from and killing people. They don’t even abide by basic rules like stopping at a red light.”
A group that lobbies for labour migrants in Russia warned of an increased risk of ethnic violence in Moscow on Monday.
“The nationalists are pursuing their political goals. This is clearly very dangerous. We are warning migrants to be careful for now in crowded areas and on public transportation,” said Mukhamad Amin, head of the Federation of Migrants of Russia.