Russia has deported at least 300 Tajik migrant workers following the jailing of a Russian pilot in the Central Asian republic, a migrant movement leader said on Tuesday.
Russian pilot Vladimir Sadovnichy and his Estonian colleague were sentenced to 8.5 years in jail in Tajikistan for smuggling and border violations on November 8. Moscow said the charges were “politically motivated.”
“Over 300 migrant workers have been deported, and 196 are being held in special detention centers,” said Tajik migrant worker head Karomat Sharipov.
Over half of poverty-stricken Tajikistan’s GDP is made up of money migrant workers send home from Russia. Sharipov said there were presently some two million Tajiks working in Russia.
Konstantin Romodanovsky, head of the Russian migration service, said shortly after Sadovnichy was jailed that 134 Tajiks had been detained and another 100 would be sent home for violating Russian immigration laws.
President Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday that the expulsion of the Tajik migrant workers had nothing to do with the pilot case. He also said that illegal migrants would be deported regularly from now on.