MOSCOW, July 27 (RIA Novosti) – More than 260 people from Central Asia were detained Saturday at a “prayer house” in a Moscow suburb, police and a human rights advocate said.
A Moscow region police official told RIA Novosti that police raided a house in the northern Moscow suburb of Mytishchi following information about an “illegal activity” and detained 263 people.
The official said that 180 of the detained had violated migration rules and eight are likely to be deported from Russia.
An activist of the Memorial human rights group said the Central Asians gathered at a “prayer house” to pray and share an “iftar” – a ceremonial dinner held daily during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
“They go there to pray, to discuss their problems, they have no other place to go to,” Bakhrom Khamrayev told RIA Novosti. "Nothing illegal was going on there."
Millions of migrant workers from impoverished ex-Soviet republics of Central Asia have come to Russia since the early 2000s, despite widespread xenophobia and frequent hate crimes.
Some Russians accuse Central Asians – along with natives of Russia’s Caucasus region – of taking their jobs, forming ethnic gangs and disrespecting Russian traditions.
Human rights groups and diaspora leaders say Russian employers, officials and police routinely abuse migrant workers by delaying or withholding their pay, extorting bribes and subjecting them to violence, humiliation and other forms of abuse.