Stop Vigilante Groups from Conducting Raids on Illegal Immigrants


Target: Sergey Semyonovich Sobyanin, Mayor of Moscow

Goal: Stop Vigilante Groups from Conducting Raids on Illegal Immigrants

A scary phenomenon has recently invaded Russian society. The line between ordinary citizens and police officers has been blurred. Some individuals who have no authorization to exercise police powers have nonetheless taken the role of law enforcement upon themselves. In the city of Moscow, these private citizens are part of Moscow Shield and Light Russia, groups whose express purpose is to break into the housing of illegal immigrants, most of whom hail from Central Asian States, detain them in their homes, and wait for the police to arrive.

Even if the law mandates that illegal immigrants be apprehended and deported, no groups of ordinary citizens should assume police powers and conduct raids. Private citizens should never be permitted to practice violence against those they deem to be law-breakers. Such a state of affairs is nothing less than vigilanteism and sets a dangerous precedent. That actual Russian police officers choose to cooperate with these self-formed militias is simply an outrage. Allowing non-authorized individuals to take the law into their hands will surely encourage the growth of more such private militias.

The scary thing about these self-styled “police” helpers is that their tactics are not informed by state law but are self-determined. And the self-determined code of behavior leads to rather crude and cruel attacks. In one instance, they descended on a open-air market to wrestle down migrant workers and hold them down to hand them off to the police. This was no measured arrest preceded by calmly-worded requests to surrender; there were no interrogations. These men simply arrived and immediately got physical.

In yet another case, they raided a building and simply kicked and punched an alleged illegal, Yunus Z. Daminov of Uzbekistani origin, until they beat him unconscious. Note the word “alleged.” These groups do not actually know whether the objects of their violent interventions are indeed illegal immigrants; they have to wait for the police to arrive and check the papers. But they don’t wait for the status check to get physical.

As they seek to enforce the law with their firsts, they don’t bother with the fine details of who actually did or did not commit a violation.But that is no surprise. They are not police whose behavior has to obey legal norms; they are private militants. And that is the most frightening consequence of their behavior. By setting the example that any individual can personally decide to take action to punish criminals, these private groups will encourage others to go out and take retribution against segments of society — be they homosexuals, illegal immigrants, or petty thieves — that they find objectionable

Please sign this petition to stop Moscow anti-immigrant groups who conduct raids on illegal immigrants without respect for norms of law and judicious, measured use of force.


Dear Sergey Semyonovich Sobyanin, Mayor of Moscow

Illegal immigrants deserve to be apprehended according to the rule of law and by authorized agents of the state. It is absolutely unjust that groups of private individuals be allowed to conduct often violent raids to turn them over to the police. When ordinary citizens decide to enforce the law, they do it in a crude way that is absolutely not informed by the legal norms.

Such private groups in the city of Moscow — Moscow Shield and Light Russia — act outside the bounds of the law because they don’t apprehend suspects in a measured, restrained approach expected of the police. There are no interrogations, document checks, or calm and orderly arrests. It’s simply violence – holding people down, beating them, and all without legal authorization or even the knowledge that they are indeed illegals.

Even if not every raid results in unjustified, unprovoked violence and ends up targeting the wrong people, the fact that this can occur is precisely reason why private individuals should never take on the tasks best left to law enforcement. The only way to make sure that legal norms are followed towards suspects is to entrust raids to police officers, whose actions, which are not always justified and reasonable, are at least held accountable to the state. If you let people whose law enforcement objectives are not guided by the state but by their own desires take on the role of police, then you’ll see them behave in all kinds of unpredictable and unpleasant ways. A society where anyone is allowed to punish those they see as criminals without consulting the police is bound to lead to increased levels of violence.

Illegal immigrants need to be protected from the state-independent vigilantes that are targeting them. Please sign this petition to demand that the Russian government stop cooperating with militant anti-immigrant groups and instead begin punishing their behavior.


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One Comment

  1. Noel Jefferson says:

    If racism exists anywhere it not only still exists, but is spread throughout the world. Small minds produce poor communities, sexism and discrimination.

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