"You will answer for our pilot!"

Svetlana Gannushkina
, 28/11/11

Source: HRO.org

· Articles by human rights defenders  · Refugees & migrants 

The Tajik courts have released the pilots Vladimir Sadovnichy and Aleksei Rudenko. They were released under an amnesty, and because of the Tajik prosecutors’ concerns the sentence was reduced to two and a half years. We are all pleased that the pilots have been released and that Russia on this occasion did not abandon them in their misfortune, but fought for them. 

And Anton Orekh on radio Moscow Echo is glad. He is glad and hopes that the Tajiks, who have unfairly suffered, will now once again be warmly received in Russia. Only the problem is that, recently, ‘a weevil as if by magic died’ in fruit from Tajikistan, and ‘every Tajik will once again need documents, certificates and stamps’, and, finally, the ‘secret Tajik syphilis will retreat before the approaching cold, along with tuberculosis and HIV’. Indeed, Anton Orekh’s optimistic hopes are not going to be realized.

Here are some stories told by Tajik immigrants who came to us for help.

Ikhtiyor Sarakhanov arrived in Moscow in May this year, signed on to the migration register, and began working on a construction site without a contract.

When the hunt for Tajiks began, Ikhtiyor decided to return home. With the last of his money he bought a plane ticket. Normally Tajiks don't fly, as it is too expensive. Ikhtiyor was evidently very scared that he would be deported and Russia would be closed to him for five years. On November 18th he arrived at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport to catch flight No. 639 to Dushanbe. He did not get to enter the airport as he was detained by police officers who took him to the offices of the Federal Migration Service (FMS). There were already over twenty Tajiks there.

What did they want from them? ‘They wanted money – 2,000 roubles per Tajik,’ said Ikhtiyor. Why? The explanation is simple: ‘For our pilots, to show no one could get away with insulting them.’

The majority of the detainees quickly handed over the 2,000 roubles and rushed to get on the plane. Six others, including Ikhtiyor, did not have the money. They were held for some time and only released after the aeroplane had taken off.

Ikhtiyor brought his ticket to me at the Civic Assistance Committee. Unfortunately, he had not taken the telephone numbers of the other Tajiks who had not been able to board their plane. There were no witnesses, but in any case he had not come to complain about what had happened. Tajiks are the humblest of immigrants. He came to ask for money to leave. But when we do give money, if we have any, it is for food, and even then only very little.

It would be interesting to know where the money taken from these Tajiks went. Surely it has not been transferred into the account of the aggrieved pilot's family, which had been left without a breadwinner? (Sadovnichy had not been released at that time)

Dzhokhongir Gulov arrived in Moscow in October 2010. All of his documentation was in order. On November 19th Gulov was driving his car in Volgograd district. Not far from the village of Sagorovo he was stopped by traffic police who demanded 200,000 roubles from him. Also, no doubt, to help Sadovnichy's family.

That’s what they said: 'You will answer for our pilot!'

Dzhokhongir handed over 50,000 roubles and left, but not without noting the police officer's number and number plate. He had initially intended to make a complaint, but as he did not go to a lawyer, he obviously changed his mind.

Asleddin Ergashev arrived in Moscow in September 2010. On November 17th he was moving to a new flat with spare tyres in his boot when he was stopped by police officers who, having seen his Tajik passport, took him to Ramenki police station. There they began the process of charging him with the theft of tyres from an unidentified person. Asleddin, frightened, asked to be let go, offering them his Uzbek Nexia car in exchange. They told him that his car was worth too little and would not work as a bribe, because Tajiks had convicted our pilot. It is true that they allowed Asleddin to call a friend. When Bakhrom Kharoev from Memorial arrived in response to the call and said the word ‘Memorial’, the police let both men go.

So you see what our people are like – how we all rush to the defence of our pilot! Chief Sanitary Inspector Gennady Onishchenko is not alone in wanting to protect Russia from Tajik syphilis, Tajik tuberculosis and Tajik weevils. Nor will they release the hundreds of Tajiks detained and sentenced to administrative deportation. How can they release them? The court has sentenced them to deportation! How is it possible to quash hundreds of court orders? And who will appeal against them? In any case, the term for appeal is ten days, and for many that has already passed.

No, Anton Orekh was not right when he concluded his optimistic statement with the words: 'Easy come, easy go'. This will not go away easily – this ‘asymmetrical response’ will resound for a long time yet, for us and for the Tajiks.

Svetlana Gannuskina, 
Chair of Civic Assistance Committee, member of the board of International Memorial Soicety, member of the board of Memorial Human Rights Centre

Translation adapted from ‘You Will Answer for Our Pilot!’ by kind permission
Rights in Russia,
29 Nov 2011, 04:18