Thousands of people arrive to Moscow to fill the niche of low-paid workers in the sphere of private and municipal construction and communal services. Mainly, they come from poorer Central Asian countries of the former Soviet Union – Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, as well as from Ukraine and Moldova. “Gastarbeiters” (migrant workers) – builders, street cleaners, odd men and shelving assistants at supermarkets etc. – have become inalienable part of life of the megapolis. Currently, this is the most low-income and vulnerable population of the capital, whose rights are widely violated, who often suffer from injustice of employers and exactions from the side of corrupted authorities and police. They live in overcrowded conditions, some hiring one apartment for many people, some in cheap dormitories. They often settle in unadjusted for living basements of apartment blocks, without any social insurances or adequate access to healthcare and risking becoming a victim of an extremist attack in the streets of the city. However, the situation in their home country is so dead-locked that they are ready to continue, with risk to their health and life, doing any unskilled job in economically more successful Russia, in order to have a chance to somehow feed and provide for their families.

Russia, Moscow, summer-autumn 2009

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