MOSCOW, November 8 (RIA Novosti) – The prefect of a southern Moscow district says he will enlist Cossacks to run checks on market workers as public discontent simmers over perceived lawlessness caused by migrants working in the Russian capital’s trading places, city broadcaster Moskva-24 reported on its website Friday.
Moskva-24 cited the South-East Administrative District prefect Vladimir Zotov as saying Cossacks would inspect markets on a voluntary basis alongside police officers.
“Cossacks are too zealous and we sometimes stop them, but wherever the Cossacks are present, illegal trade disappears,” Zotov said.
Although volunteer groups will only have authority to perform cursory checks, the deployment of Cossacks, who have over the years displayed vigorously nationalist tendencies, will arouse fears of state-sponsored intimidation of the migrant laborers that typically work in Moscow’s markets.
A violent riot in which nationalist youths clashed with police erupted last month in the southern Moscow neighborhood of Biryulyovo over anger at the authorities’ failure to immediately capture the suspected murderer of a local resident by a foreign citizen.
In the unrest that ensued, young men attacked a local market and smashed stalls as they chanted nationalist slogans.
Zotov said the market inspections were aimed at maintaining hygiene standards and that workers would not have their documents checked, Moskva-24 reported.
Moscow police have already carried out several mass raids on city markets this year, detaining thousands of market workers for ID checks. At least one major market has been closed following hygiene inspections.