The migration center in Sakharovo near Moscow.

Central Asian nationals residing in Russia are being pressured to fight in Ukraine as Moscow’s military incurs heavier-than-expected losses, evidence suggests, and migrants’ rights activists say.

The three-week conflict between Russia and Ukraine has resulted in an astonishingly high death toll; however, Russian and Ukrainian authorities differ on the exact number of soldiers that have died on each side. It is hard to determine the number of soldiers who have perished, who they are, and where they come from.

In March, the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper leaked what is believed to be personal information from 120,000 Russian soldiers who are fighting in Ukraine. Although it is from a reliable publication, the independently verified 6,616-page listing of military personnel’s details, names and registration numbers, and places of duty include various ethnically Central Asian names.

Valentina Chupik, a human rights activist renowned for her advocacy for the rights of migrants in Russia, has confirmed that more than 12 Central Asians have requested legal advice from her in response to the pressure to take up contract service with the Russian army from February. 26.

In a discussion on the Telegram messaging application, she revealed to The Moscow Times that she noticed two patterns in which migrants are targeted.

Chupik reported that she had received telephone calls coming from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan citizens living in Russia. She claimed they’d received phone calls from individuals that claimed they represented immigration law companies. Could speed up obtaining Russian citizenship when they signed to contract service.

“This is a total lie. ” Chupik said the law doesn’t permit the kind of thing to happen,” Chupik said. “I advised them that they are fraudsters.”

Another strategy is to set up tents of army located in a variety of Moscow metro stations. Chupik claims that recruiters attempt to persuade commuters to sign up in”the “Volunteer army of Donetsk’s People’s Republic.” Chupik said the recruiters are targeting immigrants, promising that they could be granted Russian citizenship in only six months.

“I believe that the Russian authorities are using the labor migrants to feed cannons for cannons in Ukraine,” Chupik alleged in an interview. “These immigrants are likely being registered to government officials in the Defense Ministry and private military firms.”

In a post on Facebook, Chupik — who was in September 2021 removed of their asylum rights by Russian authorities due to her unwavering efforts to protect migrants advised Central Asian men aged between 18 to 60 to quit Russia in the earliest time possible.

Media and social media reports confirm Chupik’s assertion that Central Asians are under pressure to join Russian troops in Ukraine.

The Telegram messaging application widely shared the image of an Uzbek man who was allegedly driving the Russian military truck to Ukraine. The man in his 50s and dressed in camouflage was seen on camera saying that he was selected due to his previous experience in Afghanistan and had no choice but to join.

“There are many Uzbeks in the country who are here to participate in the conflict. There are also people from Tajikistan. We have a deal,” said the man.

Following an RFE/RL investigation found, The man confirmed that he was offered a three-month contract with an annual salary of 50 000 rubles ($475) and a guarantee to acquire Russian citizenship.

The job advertisement came from an employment site known as UzMigrant.

Bakhrom Ismailov is the firm’s director behind UzMigrant, who is the director of UzMigrant, announced in an article in the February 20 Uzbek-language YouTube video that “contract service with the Russian army allows the applicant to gain Russian citizenship in just three months.”

In a TikTok video uploaded at the beginning of March on account of @kyrgyznation, an individual speaks on the risk that Kyrgyz immigrants could be drafted to fight.

“If you’re carrying a Russian passport and you receive an order [from the military station for enlistment], you should make an effort to return in Kyrgyzstan,” he says.

After @kyrgyznation shut down comments, the blog was inundated with sharp critiques of Kyrgyz men who have Russian citizenship, attempting to avoid the draft.

“If your passport comes from that country, the Russian Federation, you’ll donate your life to Russia. Russian Federation,” one commenter wrote.

“Shame on those who make such remarks,” Chupik told The Moscow Times. “[These Central Asians who are naturalizedare] afraid of losing their Russian citizenship and are forced to sign an agreement. They are obliged to reject. It’s better to forfeit citizenship than die in an unjust war or become a mercenary killer.”

Russian citizenship is the sought-after status for immigrants from slowing Central Asia. Not able to make a living independently, Central Asians migrate to Russia to find employment and earnings. Work-related remittances typically from Russia are responsible for 30 percent of Tajikistan’s total domestic product and 28% of Kyrgyzstan’s.

Based on Russian government figures, 4.5 million workers from Uzbekistan, 2.4 million from Tajikistan 920,000 workers from Kyrgyzstan were employed within Russia from 2021. The migrants are constantly subjected to harassment, discrimination, and even threats to kill from law enforcement agencies and face corruption and wage theft.

Russian citizenship provides some security from these everyday frictions. In 2020 alone, 63.389 Tajiks, 43,404 Kazakhs, 23,131 Uzbeks, and 11,865 Kyrgyz gained citizenship by bribing third parties to forge documents and solicit bribes from officials on behalf of the applicants, without their knowledge leaving the applicants open to threats of denaturalization.

If they were enticed or pressured, This is not the first time Central Asians signed up for the Russian military. Russian army.

Russia in 2003 ratified the rights of foreigners between 18 and 30 years old to be employed on a contractual basis in Russia in 2003. The law codified the right of foreigners aged 18 to 30 years old Russian army. Between 2008 and 2014, the number of foreigners serving under contracts — most notably Uzbeks and Tajiks was between 200 to 350.

In 2015, when Russia took action in response to the Syrian government’s call for military assistance against rebel groups, Putin issued a decree stating that foreign contractors could participate in combat operations of the Russian military operations in combat.

While overseas contractors are legally permitted to take part in Russian military actions, Central Asian governments look down on their citizens working overseas. In Tajikistan, those who are found guilty of mercenary activities are punished by the possibility of 20 years in prison.

In response to reports circulating of Uzbeks working in their country’s Russian Army in Ukraine, The Uzbek Justice Ministry said in an announcement that anyone Uzbek national who has joined an army or police force could be subject to as long as five years in jail.

The best way to avoid legal issues is for Central Asians to seek Russian citizenship. In December 2021, just two months before the deployment of Ukraine -Putin proposed to amend the law. Putin suggested amending the law to reduce the procedure of getting Russian citizens for soldiers hired by contract from the former Soviet countries.

Three Tajikistanian contractors working in the Russian army have been murdered in Ukraine.

Although it’s difficult to determine the exact level of the public’s opinion all over Central Asia on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and news of men of Bishkek as well as Badakhshan engaged in fighting with Ukraine could further sway the image of Russia in an area that is already skeptical of Putin’s plans for it.

Even with their strong financial relations with Russia, Central Asian leaders have not endorsed or criticized Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

In the March 2 extraordinary emergency session held by the United Nations General Assembly, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan were not able to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the same way that Uzbekistan, as well as Turkmenistan, did not even vote.

However, on Thursday, Uzbekistan took a stronger position in the Foreign Ministry, with Abdulaziz Kamilov telling parliament that while Tashkent was keen to maintain good relations with Kyiv as well as Moscow, it was not in a position to maintain good relations Moscow and Kyiv however, it was opposed to the conflict.

“First, Uzbekistan is seriously concerned about the situation in Ukraine,” he said. “Second, we are also the advocates of finding an acceptable solution to the situation and resolving the conflict using diplomatic and political means. To do that, first, violence and hostilities must cease immediately.”

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