Eurasianet says nationalist calls for migrants in Russia to “pay their dues” are starting to be heard against a mounting backdrop of xenophobic sentiment.

Labor migrants and students from Tajikistan living in Russia are well used to suffering abuse at the hands of law enforcement officers.

The number of reported campaigns of detentions and beatings of Tajik migrant workers is currently higher than usual.  

Politicians and officials in Russia have lately been making ever-more vocal calls for Tajiks with dual citizenship to enlist in the army, Eurasianet said noting that doing so could entail being sent to fight in Ukraine in short order.

The prospect of continued harassment from the police, as well as mounting xenophobia whipped up by chauvinist Russian politicians, may force the hand of many Tajik migrants.

Panic around this whole issue reportedly began to spread around late April, when authorities across Russia began delivering digital summons to males eligible to serve in the armed forces. 

Around that time, numerous social media posts began to appear from Tajiks recipients of call-up messages to say that they had been warned they were no longer permitted to leave the country.

According to the Russian Interior Ministry, around 174,000 Tajiks received Russian citizenship in 2022. In 2021, the number was around 104,000. Under an agreement signed with Russia in 1997, Tajik nationals are allowed to hold dual citizenship.

The appeal of this privilege is strong. Holding Russian citizenship spares Tajik nationals of having to go through the time-consuming and costly process of obtaining work permits. It also provides them with greater access to banking services and, eventually, entitles them to pension payments.