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In Russia, Migrant Workers Live In Fear Of Racism

Sergei Sotnikov for NPR
Tajik construction worker Said Chekhanov supports 10 family members back home. He says working conditions in Russia are difficult. Work begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m. Workers requesting a day off risk being fired.

Racist crimes in Russia have risen sharply this year. At least 60 people are believed to have been killed so far this year and another 100 have been injured.

Routine beatings and homicides are spreading fear among migrant workers from Central Asia and southern Russia. They say they live like virtual slaves in a country that depends on their labor.

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It's thought 60 percent of Tajikistan's working population is in Russia. Central Asians form part of a virtually segregated, second class of residents, providing cheap labor doing the kind of backbreaking and dangerous work Russians refuse to do.

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