Just four days before the tragedy, the child celebrated his sixth birthday. Today in Nizhny Novgorod was a day of mourning. The townspeople said goodbye to the family killed in their own house in Kudma.
Many people came to pay tribute to the memory of the six-year-old boy, his mother, grandmother and grandfather – both relatives and friends, and those wishing to express their condolences. This story has gone far beyond the borders of the region, and while some Russians grieve for the dead, others experience the tragedy differently – they are looking for its reasons and those to blame.
In this case, the popular anger fell on the migrants, because the main suspect is a worker who came from the near abroad. Already, more and more calls for a tougher migration policy are appearing on social networks.
Our colleagues from NN.RU studied what users offer under the hashtag with the name of the deceased boy.
Stranger under suspicion
Sharofiddin Amirov is a 26-year-old native of Uzbekistan who came to Russia many years ago. The last few years he lived in Kudma – worked for the Malakhov family as an auxiliary worker. He lived on their own plot, according to local residents, received about 30 thousand rubles a month for his labor. However, this young man, they claim, did not suit: the question of salary often became the cause of conflicts between the migrant and the owner of the house, Anatoly Korolev.
According to the stories of neighbors, Amirov was even going to give up everything, go back to his homeland and get married. As a result, the situation developed in a completely unpredictable and scary way. According to the investigation, on the afternoon of February 28, it was he who came to the house of the family for which he had worked for so long and killed 41-year-old Elena Malakhova, her six-year-old son, as well as both parents. If it were not for the circumstances, the victims could have been even more – at that time there was no husband at home, who went on a business trip, and the eldest daughter, who went to equestrian sports.
According to him, he stole money from the house, but did not take the documents that he found with him. As a law enforcement source told NN.RU, about 10 million rubles, as well as a large number of gold jewelry belonging to the deceased, 41-year-old Elena Malakhova, became the loot of the robber. A few hours after the massacre, Amirov was detained on the highway (with another migrant and a Russian citizen) in a stolen car.
“I want my family to be safe”
A day after the incident, Runet was filled with anti-migrant statements. According to users, illegal migration poses a serious danger due to the difference in cultures and upbringing, and what happened in the Malakhov family is a confirmation of this.
Such statements are not only in the angry comments under the posts about the tragedy. Even some media outlets began to express their position, in particular, the Tsargrad publication (owned by Konstantin Malofeev, a businessman of conservative views, who is called an Orthodox oligarch. – Ed.). In one of its publications, the publication directly asks the question: “Aren’t there too many guest workers in Russia?”
On the social network Twitter, the Russian-speaking segment of which, as a rule, is made up of young people of liberal views, the topic of the murder of a six-year-old boy and his family came to the third line of trends.
In posts with the now popular hashtag, people propose to tighten the migration policy in Russia, as well as introduce a new law, which would be named after the murdered boy (the name of the deceased child refers to information that cannot be disseminated in the media, therefore we cannot publish the hashtag. – Approx.ed.).
In the messages, users appeal that the presence in the country of a large number of Asian citizens, some of whom have entered illegally, can be dangerous for local residents. Some have expressed serious concern for the lives of their families.
In other messages, offers to go to public actions began to arrive. Judging by the texts, this position is taken mainly by young users.
There are also those who look at the problem from a different angle. Some users believe that attempts to promote the idea of restricting migration policy for natives of Central Asia at the expense of the tragedy is dangerous speculation.
Against the backdrop of the history of the Malakhov family, activists even began to urge other users to donate money to organizations that help migrants and refugees, which was received very ambiguously by other users.
As arguments, they point to the plight of migrants in our country, their unstable legal status and unprotected rights, as well as a number of problems with the assimilation of newcomers both at the social and state levels.
In addition, according to users advocating a softening of migration policy and simplification of entry into the country, the percentage of crimes committed by residents of the near abroad who have moved to the Russian Federation is too small to cause concern.
They also cite as an example another scandalous situation related to the tragedy that happened. Due to the error of a number of media outlets and messages that spread through anonymous forums, the public has already managed to unfairly accuse two natives of Armenia of allegedly helping the criminal. At the same time, neither Edgar Grigoryan (the person in the photo), nor his comrade Vazgen Adibekyan, to whom social media users managed to ascribe the guilt of the murder, had nothing to do with the case.
The personal messages of both in just one night were filled with threats and wishes of death, and they themselves even began to be afraid to go out. In fact, the foreigners who fell under the hot hand did not know not only the deceased family, but also never met the main suspect in their lives. Activists say this is just one example of people being bullied just because of their ethnicity.
Official figures and position of the authorities
According to the calculations of the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, at the beginning of this year, about 6.3 million migrants live in Russia. Their number almost halved in 2020 amid the pandemic – many returned to their homeland due to work problems and current restrictions. Before the COVID-19 restrictive measures began, between 9 and 11 million foreign citizens lived in the country. At the same time, today only one million of them have citizenship or a residence permit.
Migrant labor is involved in many areas of the Russian economy, more often in low-skilled types of work: construction, cleaning, maintenance, delivery, transportation of passengers and road facilities. So, for example, in Moscow, due to the outflow of migrants last year, there was a shortage of workers – for example, the number of vacancies for taxi drivers in the capital’s job search services increased by almost 85%, and builders – by more than 30%.
As for the statistics of crimes committed by newcomers, according to the police, this indicator has been steadily decreasing since 2015, when a compulsory comprehensive examination was introduced for those wishing to officially reside in the territory of the Russian Federation. In quantitative terms, the number of crimes of which migrants are guilty decreased from 43.9 thousand to 34.4 thousand. Most of them are committed by citizens of the former Soviet republics. At the same time, in 2020, in the capital and a number of large cities, there was again a serious increase in cases of criminal behavior among foreigners – the Ministry of Internal Affairs attributed this to the fact that many migrants were left without work and the ability to leave the country due to the current restrictions.
To date, the actions of the Russian authorities are aimed not at toughening up, but, on the contrary, at softening the current migration policy. In January 2021, Vladimir Putin tasked the government with making it easier for foreign citizens to enter the country to work on construction sites. The new rules may take effect this spring.
Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director of the Institute of International Relations and World History Mikhail Rykhtik believes that such a step is reasonable and fully justified:
– We must forever abandon the myth that migrants take someone’s job. The history of literally all peoples shows us that the indigenous population will not go to work in low-paid jobs. There is no need to deceive yourself, the city man does not go there. The same situation exists in Europe and in the States.
– Including there is a demographic issue. For example, the Nizhny Novgorod region is dying out, and the leadership of the country and the region should be faced with the task of attracting migrants. What qualifications, what level of education is another question. But in general, from the economic and social sides, I find the decision of the head of state correct, – the political scientist asserts.
Speaking about the fears of Russians about newcomers, the professor insists that all the harsh statements of recent days are more likely due to the intensity of passions than a clear political and social position:
– Emotions are bad counselors. It is much more important to analyze how often migrants are involved in such crimes. Is it true that the increase in crimes is associated with their presence in the country? We know many examples when similar things are done by representatives of the indigenous population. It is impossible to prohibit the movement of peoples. Nobody – not the EU, not the US, not Russia – can cope with this task. Leaders and candidates who promise this are engaging in simple populism for the sake of elections. Tragedies must be discussed, criminals must be condemned. But decisions, especially political ones, must be balanced and realistic, the expert says.
According to a January report by the UN Economic and Social Council, Russia is currently one of the five countries in the world with the highest number of migrants.