End Police Targeting of Migrant Laborers in Russia


Target: Russian President Vladimir Putin

Goal: Guarantee rights to migrant laborers in Sochi

As work on the Sochi Olympic Stadium draws to a close, Russian authorities have begun to round up and jail the migrant laborers who helped to build it. These workers, of which there are several hundred, are being held in inhuman conditions without trial by the very same government that was previously employing them. All have been imprisoned for supposed violations of migrant or employment regulations. Russian authorities should immediately take action to correct this abortion of justice, and end the policy of ethnic profiling that allowed it to happen.

A Human Rights Watch investigation revealed that the vast majority of those jailed had two things in common: almost all of them helped construct the Sochi Olympic Stadium and associated buildings and were of non-Slavic descent. These commonalities prove that the mistreatment is directed at people of specific and marginalized ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Their treatment has varied significantly, with some being released after a number of days and others expelled from the country following brief trials without access to legal counsel.

Furthermore, those that have been imprisoned were held in deeply unsanitary and abusive conditions, including being held in crowded cells for long periods of time without food, beds, or medical aid. “Lucky” detainees were permitted to sleep on makeshift chunks of cardboard on the cell floor, but such generosity from the immigration office was far from typical. Finally, the laborers were almost always tried in blocks, and without exception prevented from attaining legal counsel.

It is shocking to think that a nation found fit by the international community to host the Olympic games would perpetrate such deception and cruelty upon its subjects. We must appeal to Russia’s highest powers to free these laborers from unjust captivity, and end the discriminatory profiling policies that led to them being arrested int he first place.

Petition Letter:

Dear President Putin,

Russian authorities recently detained several hundred migrant laborers without charges on the pretext of alleged violations of migration regulations. These laborers have since been held in overcrowded cells and prevented from seeking legal counsel. In many cases the courts ordered these workers expelled from the country in great blocks with only a cursory trial, and always without access to an attorney.

Such despicable treatment of individuals who your government employed mere weeks ago is shocking, and a clear violation of both ethics and human rights. Your government should take immediate action to free those still held in custody, and to reform the policy of ethnic profiling that allowed these abuses to take place.


[Your Name Here]

Image Credit: Александр Вайнер via Wikimedia Commons

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