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Thursday 01 June

Главная News of the Center Publications Being African in Moscow is rather dangerous
Being African in Moscow is rather dangerous

Moscow remains an unsafe place for people with another skin color, although the situation has slightly improved in the last ten years.


This testified was published on Monday as a result of the annual survey which is conducted since 2002 by volunteers from the Moscow Protestant community.

This time, 209 people answered the questionnaire of whom 206 were from Africa (Afghanistan, India and Indonesia were represented each by one person).

The survey included representatives of 36 African countries. Most among them (51 people) turned out to be Nigerians, followed by Cameroonians and people from the Democratic Republic of Congo.




Survey Data

33%: "constantly hear racist remarks";

42%: "from the beginning of the year were at least once subjected to assault and battery"

61%: "the surrounding people hardly relate to me because of my color"


Numerous communities


The number of Africans in Moscow is roughly estimated on ten thousand people. Only at the Patrice Lumumba Peoples’ Friendship University study about 1000 African students from 43 countries.

The participants of the survey spent from one month to 20 years in Moscow. Only one of them is of Russian citizenship. Nearly half (48,5%) live illegally in the country. The majority of those who completed the questionnaire asked not to disclose their names.

One hundred were students, 14 diplomats and corporate managers, the rest identified itself as migrants or refugees.



Bad attitudes


61% of the respondents rate the attitude of the Muscovites towards people of other races as bad or very bad, and only 8% as good or very good. This really seen experience in Russia is almost not different from the expectation of the respondents before their arrival. Apparently, the glory of the country as fighter against colonialism and racism and as protector of the oppressed badly faded since the time of the Soviet Union.

In 2002, things were much worse: 91% of the respondents granted the Muscovites a bad attitude, and 53% indicated a “very bad”.



What fear the guests of the capital?


14,5% said that they are subject to insult aggression “very often”, 6% on the average on a week, 12% at least once a month.

88,5% of Africans living in Moscow indicated that racism, one way or another, affects their daily life.

53,5% said that they avoid get on the metro in late hours, 42,5% that they endeavor going out at night, during city festivals and football matches, 31,5% indicated that they do not feel safe in certain areas of the city and 24,5% fear the militia and generally any of the authorities.




“They stare at me as if I flew in from outer space”

Anonymous participant of the survey



According to the participants of the survey, the most dangerous places in Moscow are the area of the stadium “Luzhniki”, where Africans try not to show up at all, the metro, especially “Sokolnicheskaya” line and the south-east extremity of Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya line, as well as the parks of the city.

The majority of the incidents starts namely in the metro. Two main scenarios: either the aggressively minded people instigate a wrangle in the carriage and raise the victim to the surface to “sort it out” on the street, or an idle crowd begins to follow the African at the entrance of the metro, passing the time at the beer stand.



How does this happen?


It is difficult to translate the word “harassment” to Russian, more frequently interpreted as “abusive bothering”.

Many foreigners and Russians note that the habit to enter in a conversation with unknown people is a national tradition in Russia.

For the Africans, “conversation” often takes immediately an unpleasant turn. Strangers start to inquire what they do in Russia, why they do not learn the Russian language or “how many lions he killed on his own in Africa”. Any answer, as well as the reluctance to maintain the conversation, is taken as “disrespect” and leads to the escalation of the conflict.

Often a malevolently minded group, no referring to one African directly, explicitly loudly discusses his appearance, expanding that “the blacks invade whole Russia”, and practice in wit about the usual subject of the monkey eating bananas and the life in jungle, or, in the words of one respondent “they stare at me as if I flew in from outer space”.




"The data, certainly, are reliable and they do not surprise at all"

Galina Kozhevnikova, human rights activist


Some participants of the survey told that aggressive people, obviously wishing to provoke a fight, push them or spit on them.

33% said that they permanently hear racist comments and only 3% that they haven’t faced them ever.

However, since 2002 the complaining about the rudeness of the others was cut in half.

The worst case

58% of the respondents said that during their time of life in Russia they have been at least once subject to physical violence, to 42% that happened within the last eight months.

In January, a citizen of Cameroon died from a knife attack which was inflicted by an unknown hooligan in the metro station “Vdnkh”

In February, some citizens met two Nigerians near the metro station “Kusminki” and asked them over for a drink. In the flat a new “friend” got aggressive and said that supposedly the “niggers” were killing in Chechnya and attacked the guests with a knife. Those managed to escape with difficulties.

In May, three young men in broad daylight beat up a 64-year-old Congolese in a trolleybus, calling her “nigger” and “monkey”.

Who is attacking?

59 out of 102 attacks, about which the participants of the survey gave details, were committed by men aged 18-25, and 25 of them by those in the age of 25-40.

In 80 cases, the attackers operated in groups.

Only in 26 cases they were clearly drunk. In 30 cases, cold weapons were used – knives, knuckle-dusters, sticks, baseball bats, bottlenecks.

According to the participants of the survey, the majority of the attacks do not occur spontaneously. They are convinced that there is a category of people in Moscow, who are specifically looking for such "entertainment".

The opinion that racial crimes are mostly committed by classic skinheads is not justified. Most of the attackers apparently do no stand out of the crowd.

Conduct of the militia

According to the victims, which directed themselves to the police, only in 4% of the cases the perpetrators were found and convicted.

They affirm that the guards did not want to deal with from their point of view insignificant incidents, refused to see them as racially motivated and react on claims with phrases like: “If you don’t like it, go home, in Russia do not grow bananas”.

On the other hand, in 77% of the cases the victims themselves did not turn to the authorities, because of the absence of legal grounds for their stay in Russia, a weak knowledge of language or the belief that help no aid is waiting for them.

“We cannot guarantee for whole Moscow or for whole Russia, but at least on our territory such stories are impossible.”

Galina Kuzmina, press secretary of the Russian Peoples’ Friendship University

69% of the participants of the survey affirmed that the militia constantly checks the documents of Africans. Every eighth said that this happens “almost every day”.

The “fine” for a missing registration, according to their words, range from 200 to 1000 rubles, and if the detained states that he has no money with him, the law enforcement officers can search his pockets. Only two percent of the interrogated received at least once a fine receipt. In two of three cases the retention lasted more than half an hour.

Evaluations and comments

The Moscow Police Head of the Public Relations Ekaterina Vedeneeva said BBC that she cannot comment specific data given by the young activists, however, the leadership of the militia of the capital sees the problem. In particular, last year was established in the Moscow Police a Center for the countering of extremism, which has to cope with crimes on ethnic grounds.

The Deputy Director of the human rights information-analytical center "Sova" Galina Kozhevnikova said that the poll results did not surprise her.

“The data is certainly reliable and do in no way surprise” she declared.

According to Kozhevnikova, the high level of domestic racism in Russia is also reflected in the reaction of internet-users to the election of Barack Obama as President of the US.

The press secretary of the Russian Peoples’ Friendship University, Galina Kuzmina, informed the BBC that the University agreed to ensure the safety of their students by hiring a private security service for the guarding of the campus, by introducing a system of electronic passes, and the transport of foreign students to two educational buildings which are located in other parts of the city on special buses.

“We cannot guarantee for whole Moscow or for whole Russia, but at least on our territory such stories are impossible” she said.

What to do?

Kuzmina believes that the complex “they come here in numbers” is a result of poverty and lack of education.

At the beginning of each academic year, the Chancellor of the Russian Peoples’ Friendship University speaks in front of the first-year students and strictly warns that failed exams can be repeated, but those guilty of nationalistic outbursts will be expelled without remorse.

For nine years the volunteers of the Moscow Protestant community have not found a way to solve the problem. Their main recommendation to Africans living in Moscow is to liaise with the embassy of their country.

Given the fact that since 2002 the situation still has improved, there is hope that sooner or later, all residents of Moscow will become accustomed to the fact that people may look different, and that a modern metropolis is necessarily multi-ethnic and multicultural.



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