Minority Muslim Group Cast Out of Russia, Heads to US

November 18, 2005

Source: The Washington Post


On November 18, 2005 The Washington Post reported, "Thousands of Muslims from a small ethnic group known as the Meskhetian Turks are fleeing this Black Sea region for the United States. The exodus is caused by what human rights groups call a campaign of persecution sanctioned by local authorities and spearheaded by the Cossacks, a Russian militia that fought for the czars and is being revived. In the past year, just more than 5,000 Meskhetian Turks have resettled in the United States as refugees, and 4,400 have approval to immigrate, according to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Another 7,000 have filed applications that U.S. officials are reviewing. 'I call it soft ethnic cleansing,' said Alexander Ossipov, an analyst at the Institute for Humanities and Political Studies in Moscow. 'The local authorities decided which ethnic groups were desirable and which were not. It's government based on a racist ideology.' The United States has criticized actions of the Krasnodar authorities in State Department human rights reports and at meetings of the 55-country Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Russian officials in the south say the Meskhetian Turks are foreigners who have no right to remain in Russia. They play down reports of Cossack violence."