Friday, August 26, 2016


Kyrgyz Migrant Women Brutally Assaulted In 'Patriotic' Videos

A screen grab from a video showing "Ajna," a Kyrgyz woman being beaten by male compatriots, purportedly for associating with non-Kyrgyz men.
A screen grab from a video showing "Ajna," a Kyrgyz woman being beaten by male compatriots, purportedly for associating with non-Kyrgyz men.
By Eleonora Beishenbek Kyzy and Claire Bigg
The attacks follow the same scenario.

A naked woman lies sobbing as a group of Kyrgyz-speaking men brutally cross-examine her. They punch and kick her, pull her hair, and curse at her.

Sometimes, the aggressors shave their victim's eyebrows or threaten her with a knife.

At least five online videos documenting vicious assaults against what appear to be Kyrgyz women in Russia have emerged since March, sowing fear among Kyrgyz migrants and sparking an outcry in the small Central Asian nation.

The authors of the clips describe themselves as "Kyrgyz patriots" bent on punishing female migrants for allegedly dating non-Kyrgyz men.

RFE/RL was able to track down one of the victims, 20-year-old Ajna (not her real name), who traveled to the Russian capital last year to work as a cleaner.

According to Ajna, the assault began in the Moscow metro when her boyfriend, a presumed member of the "patriots," saw her send a message from her mobile phone to a non-Kyrgyz male friend.

"He lashed me with a belt, calling me all sorts of terrible things," she says. "He filmed the scene with his phone. Then he called his friends and asked them to come over. They started beating and humiliating me, right there in the metro. They asked me where I lived and took me there."

'I Thought I Was Going To Die'

The worst was yet to come. Once in the flat, Ajna recalls, her landlord and his friends, also Kyrgyz migrants, joined in the violence. The video shows them strangling and beating her as she cowers on the ground.

"They kicked me, they insulted me, they threatened me with a knife," she says. "I was so scared that I confessed things I had not done. In such moments you forget everything. I thought I was going to die."

She says the assault ended with one of her assailants raping her.

Ajna has since returned to Kyrgyzstan. She has not told her family about her ordeal for fear of being stigmatized.

Last week, however, she resolved to file a police complaint that she hopes will help put an end to the attacks.

Thanks to her testimony, Kyrgyz police have already identified seven members of the gang and have asked Russian authorities to launch a criminal case.

Ajna's disclosure has encouraged another victim to come forward. A young Kyrgyz woman named Sapargul sent a letter this week to Russian police, the Kyrgyz Embassy in Moscow, and RFE/RL, recounting her own ordeal at the hands of the "patriots."

She says the attack took place in September after she and a female friend were approached by a group of non-Kyrgyz men in a Moscow cafe. The scene was witnessed by her attackers, who, accusing the two women of flirting, pulled them into a car and drove them to a remote location.

In footage posted online, a terrified Sapargul stands naked in a dark street as a group of men beats and insults her.

She told RFE/RL that the men threatened to electrocute her and her friend.

"They tied cables around our legs, plugged them to the car's batteries and demanded that we repeat what they told us," she say. "They said it would serve as a lesson to the other Kyrgyz girls. They beat us the whole time and jabbed us with something sharp. They threatened to kill us if we didn't say what they told us to into the camera."

Vulnerable To Abuse

An estimated 600,000 Kyrgyz citizens currently work in Russia, some 40 percent of them women.

Like Sapargul, many have left their family behind to search for work and are highly vulnerable to abuse and sexual exploitation.

Rights groups say this type of punitive assault is not uncommon in Russia, although the country has rarely seen such a ruthless campaign of violence against women.

"The rhetoric that some women date the wrong men or pay attention to men from other ethnic groups is characteristic of 'patriotic-minded' people," says Natalya Yudina, an expert the Sova organization, which monitors hate crimes in Russia "Similar incidents were reported in Tatarstan. Russian skinheads have also beaten up women for seeing black men."

The grisly videos have made the rounds among Russia's Kyrgyz immigrants, a number of whom actually side with the "patriots."

While frowning on their methods, they say women suspected of dishonoring the Kyrgyz people deserve a harsh reprimand.

"I support these guys," said Abdrazak, a middle-aged Kyrgyz man living in Moscow with his family. "But it was not necessary to beat the girls, they could simply have rounded them up and thrown them out of the country so that they would never come back.

"They could have called police officers and told them that these girls lead an immoral lifestyle. That would have been reason enough to have them deported to Kyrgyzstan."

But most Kyrgyz are appalled.

"They call themselves patriots of the Kyrgyz people, but just look at what they do," said Kyrgyzstan's Ambassador to Russia Bolot Zhunusov. "They brutally abuse Kyrgyz girls, beating them up, forcing them to undress and posting the videos on the Internet. This is neither patriotic nor heroic."

'I've Long Been Dead Inside'

News of the attacks has spread quickly across Kyrgyzstan, where concern is growing over the safety of Kyrgyz women in Russia.

A youth organization in Bishkek has begun collecting funds to help the victims. The country's ombudsman has pledged an investigation, and the Kyrgyz parliament has sent a delegation to Russia to look into the cases.

This solidarity has brought some solace to Sapargul and Ajna.

Sapargul, in particular, remains alone in Moscow and lives in fear of another attack.

She believes her parents and her two children back in Kyrgyzstan know of the online video. Out of shame, she has not contacted them since the assault.

She is now pinning all her hopes on the investigation. Like Ajna, she fears she won't be able to rebuild her life until justice is served and her tormentors are behind bars:

"I'm afraid of going into the street, of talking to people," she said. "I've been told they want to kill me and are looking for me. I've long been dead inside, I'm like a shadow. All I can think of is -- what kind of future awaits me now?"

Written by Claire Bigg, based on reporting by RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service correspondent  Eleonora Beishenbek Kyzy

Claire Bigg

Claire Bigg covers Russia, Ukraine, and the post-Soviet world, with a focus on human rights, civil society, and social issues. Send story tips to​


This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jack from: US
May 31, 2012 16:37
Kyrgyz country is a NATO minion.
In Response

by: george from: USA
June 01, 2012 02:47
If this was done to my sister or daughter, there would be blood spilt.
This is the 21st century, time for the 13th century mentality to go.
The actions of these men is criminal, and needs to be delt with as such. They have dishonored themselves and their country with their actions. Have proven themselves to be cowards.
To Jack, do you drink and post?
In Response

by: Jack from: US
June 01, 2012 12:47
that was a post by jealous RFE/RL staff member, keen on undermining my authority, not me. RFE/RL is a CIA-operated propaganda outlet of US government

by: William from: Aragon
May 31, 2012 23:03
The crimes were committed by Kyrgyz men on Kyrgyz women in Russia, and the women need to be reported to the Russian authorities - I am sure they will get it sorted out.

by: Anonymous
May 31, 2012 23:49
"She says the assault ended with one of her assailants raping her."

I think this blablabla non-kirgyz men blabla was only a pretext for
humiliating, torturing and raping a woman.

poor, insignificant, powerless fellows whose only purported illusion of power is humiliating a defenseless and helpless woman.

by: Bek from: Kyrgyzstan
June 01, 2012 05:02
I recognize this videos. In fact those are uzbek women at ethnic attacks in southern Kyrgyzstan.

by: Beken from: Osh
June 01, 2012 12:13
kyrgyz people are muslim. İslam do not give permisson to women to be with men she doesnt married. Women are pride of nation.
In Response

by: George from: USA
June 01, 2012 15:58
Beken, If the women are the pride of the nation, why are they in so many case's treated like slaves and dogs?
Where is the mens pride and self respect to treat a woman in this manner?
In Response

by: Adam from: London, UK
June 02, 2012 16:19
Beken, according to Islam, a muslim woman can marry a muslim man- it is not dependant on his or her nationaity but only the religion. If you want to follow Islam, then this is the Islamic law. Yes, it is recommended for them to be of the same culture, but it is not the steadfast rule, this does not justify such attacks on defenceless women. In Islam, we have the highest respect for women and our religion teaches us to be kind and gentle to them - not to show force or opress them. Such behaviour is not Islamic at all and gives muslims a bad name all over the world. Just read some of the comments from non-muslims on this page and you will see. Islam, speaks respectfully of woman- the mother, the wife, the daughter, the sister, endears her and takes care of her, stressing her being worthy of affection, mercy and generosity. It recommends women before recommending a man. It regards the love of woman as a sign of faith.
It even raises this love of woman to the level of being a `prophetic conduct'. We must look higher than just a person nationality- as you know, Islam does not see colour or nation. When one day you have the honour of going to Mecca, you will see people from every nation on earth. May Allah give us all hidayat (guidance) including these 'patriots' and their victims. For your information, I am not from central asia and i am located in London.
In Response

by: William from: Aragon
June 02, 2012 23:31
Thank-you Adam, for your wider and informative comment on this matter. We readers look forward to your further comments on this site.
In Response

by: Suraya from: NorthEast
June 09, 2012 19:45
Adam, you sound like a good person. You might be projecting your own personality on your understanding of Islam. Unfortunately, for the overwhelming majority of people all over the world including the Muslim world it is a brutal religion aimed against women at its core. The sura about women in Quran is called Bakara - a cow. There were a lot of good-hearted religious scholars who tried to humanize Islam. Unfortunately, they stay as single voices, something like human rights defenders in Muslim societies of their times. Never a majority, never followed wholeheartedly by others, even less so by people in power.
Nowadays, when Western, even Russian, societies talk about demography they think that it might be good to go back to patriarchal traditions in order to improve demography. But why not move in the other direction and get women out of the yoke of brutal men, give them access to education and employment. They will have fewer children and work towards better living conditions in every generation to follow. I look at the photos of people to went to Mecca and they devastate me. A society built with complete exclusion of women. The good side of Islam only emerges during discussions, but never on the daily basis in life. I am so sorry, but I couldn't help writing this.
In Response

by: Suraya from: NorthEast
June 09, 2012 20:05
I did not have to go far to find this video evidence of "beating etiquette and guidance"

by: Thomas from: Berlin
June 16, 2012 18:43
This is a tragedy which is repeated in circles of migrant workers from Central Asia and Caucasus in Russia, many of whom are young ignorant men raised in the post-communist era where the educatioanl system was broken and where no solid constructive ideology existed to replace communism.

The solution must be multi-pronged: (1) prosecute the thugs who kidnap, beat, rape and humiliate the girls and women; (2) compensate the victims; (3) invest in education in Central Asia so that yet another hooligan generation is not generated; (4) emphasize the equality of men and women (and ironically Kyrgyzstan is far advance in this relative to its cohorts of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, for example); (5) provide quality training for all wouild-be migrants and ensure that females specially are aware of the dangers of work abroad; supply them with skills that would land them quality jobs if wishing to go abroad or stay in the country; and (6) put this issue on the agenda of Western embassies and international organizations present in Kygryzstan to remind the authorities to take action.

To RFE/RL: This is an important story that you have covered and thank you for your work. Here's another which you may want to pursue: Go to key night clubs, bars, discos in Bishkek on a Friday or Saturday night and you will see multitutes of young women and associated American GIs, chatting, dancing, drinking. Some of the females may be prostitues and the GIs, Johns. If so, and if prostitution is illegal in Kyrgyzstan, why is the U.S. allowing its solders to encourge this illegal activity? Are there sexaul and psychological abuse of young Kyrgyz women taking place in Bishkek by the thousands of U.S. personnel stationed in that country? While the U.S. public is overfed with constant rhetoric of their "patriotic sons and daugheters" fighting for America and freedom abroad, hundreds, possibly thousands of them may be committing what constitutes criminal activity and are getting away with it.

Most Popular

Editor's Picks