Radio Liberty says Russian recruiters are targeting Central Asian labor migrants at mosques and dormitories to join war in Ukraine.

A report posted on Radio Liberty’s website on April 18 says Tajik migrant Foziljon Umarov recently applied to renew his expiring Russian residency permit in Nizhny Novgorod oblast, where he works as a bricklayer.

As Umarov handed in his documents at the migration department, a clerk reportedly asked him if he would consider joining the Russian military.

"She said if I became a contract soldier I'd no longer need a residency permit or a work permit and could get a Russian passport after six months of military service. I would also earn about $3,000 a month," Umarov was cited as saying. 

He said the employee who spoke to him at the migration center was an ethnic Tajik.

"She spoke Tajik with me.  I don't know if they hired a Tajik employee specifically to speak to Tajik migrants, and Uzbek clerks for Uzbeks, etc.," Umarov added.

Many migrant workers from Central Asia say Russian recruiters have increasingly approached them at mosques, in dormitories, and at migration offices to try to lure them into joining the military as Moscow struggles to replace its depleted forces in Ukraine, Radio Liberty said.

Recall, Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi, said in February that it has found information about ten Russia pardoned Tajik prisoners killed in Russia’s war in Ukraine.   

Tajikistan’s legislation stipulates that the participation of a mercenary in armed conflicts or battle operations is punishable by imprisonment for a period of 12 to 20 years.