‘Underground town’ full of illegal migrants uncovered in Moscow

Moscow police have uncovered an “underground town” housing more than 100 illegal migrants from Central Asia in the capital’s east, a Moscow criminal police officer said on Thursday.

Police officers together with security and migration officials have raided a factory near the Mozhaiskoye highway following a report about a large illegal settlement in its territory, Andrei Mishel said.

“A total of 110 men and women were living in an underground bomb shelter behind a 4-meter high concrete fence with a barbed wire,” he said, adding that there were even bathrooms and praying rooms organized in the “underground town.”

Most of the uncovered illegal migrants were employees of the factory involved in producing parts of sewing machines, Mishel said. The majority of them will be extradited from the country, and 16 people suspected to have been involved in criminal activity will be questioned by investigators, the police officer added.

Police are considering opening a criminal case against the factory’s director, he said.

Russia has been struggling to cut its inflow of immigrant workers, most of whom arrive to Moscow and other major Russian cities from former Soviet Central Asian republics. Around 10 percent of the Russia’s workforce is thought to come from outside the country.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin recently estimated that about 2 million of illegal migrants were living in Moscow, home to some 15 million people, while the Federal Migration Service argued there were only 340,000 migrants in the capital, with some 155,000 of them unregistered.

A wave of ethnic tension swept throughout Russia in December last year, with over 5,000 football hooligans and nationalists clashing with police outside the Kremlin walls on December 11.

In order to prevent a repeat of the violence, dubbed a threat to Russia’s national security by President Dmitry Medvedev, the Federal Migration Service has moved to improve the integration of immigrants into Russian society and raise the caliber of foreign workers in the country.


MOSCOW, April 14 (RIA Novosti)

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