(Reuters) – Russia’s police have detained thousands of migrants across the country in New Year’s Eve raids with scores of them facing deportation, Russian media reported on Monday.
About 3,000 migrants were detained in Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg during checks “to prevent crime,” Russia’s RIA state news agency reported.
“As it turned out, more than 600 of the migrants have been in Russia with various violations of migration legislation,” RIA cited an unnamed law enforcement agency source as saying.
More than 100 people faced deportation, RIA added.
Russia’s SOTA online news outlet said a man from Tajikistan who was dressed as a Santa Claus was among migrants detained in Moscow.
In the west-central Russian city of Chelyabinsk, Russia’s top investigative organ, the Investigative Committee, said it was opening a criminal case against three migrants for an “act of hooliganism” against Russian servicemen and their wives.
“A crowd of drunken migrants attacked two young men demobilized from the front line, one soldier was hit with a baton,” the Committee said on the Telegram messaging app.
“It is also noted that the migrants insulted the wives of veterans of the special military operation.”
Russia calls the war it unleashed on Ukraine in February 2022 a “special military operation.”
The Committee said it also opened investigation into “illegal actions of migrants” in the Sverdlovsk region in Russia’s Ural mountains and in the Moscow region.
Many migrants predominantly from neighbouring Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, come to Russia in search of work.
President Vladimir Putin said in December that Russia has more than 10 million labour migrants.
“This is not an easy problem,” Putin said during his annual press conference.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)