Ekaterina Khodzhaeva
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Instrumentalising racism in Russian policing
Everyday interactions between police officers and migrants
in Policing race, ethnicity and culture
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The chapter describes the findings of participant observation of the professional lives of two Russian police divisions – patrol service and local police – in Kazan, Tatarstan in 2007. The research explains why police-initiated encounters mainly target phenotypically identified non-Slavic migrants, as well as the ensuing dynamics. Despite a significant presence of foreigners from Ukraine and Moldova among migrant labour in Russia, they are less likely to be stopped by the police than migrant workers from Central Asia and the Caucasus region. While the assessment of police officers’ work in Russia is subjected to quantitative performance indicators, the police officers use an instrumental racism in migration control, providing ethnic profiling mainly on the physical characteristics of people. We call this approach instrumental as its predominant function is to facilitate stop-and-search practices and thereby reach the quantitative indicators. The chapter distinguishes between two opposite strategies in establishing daily interactions between the police and migrants: first, mutually beneficial cooperation, including long-term corruption, and second, punitive and strong control towards ethnic minorities, or sporadic extortion of money under threat. The first strategy is more prevalent in the local police, whereas patrol-guard officers favour the second one. At the same time, an instrumental racism is the main technique for the ethnic profiling of migrants as ‘potential criminals’ in the Russian police and it is applied in both strategies.

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Policing race, ethnicity and culture

Ethnographic perspectives across Europe


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