They live in a society that rejects them and gives them no rights. Most of them are African students who have come to Russia to study there. Graduates or not, they are excluded from any legal professional activity and are the permanent target of Russian ultranationalists. Then they barricade themselves, fear in the belly, in general indifference.
Before the collapse of the USSR, young Africans flocked to Moscow on the campus of the famous University Patrice Lumumba. From the name of the Congolese nationalist assassinated in the early 60s. It was renamed the Peoples’ Friendship University.
Thousands of students were received with open arms in the Soviet Union. Doctors, engineers, economists, lawyers … and African revolutionaries. They could continue their studies for years, all paid by the Kremlin, anxious to curb the Western influence in Africa at the time of the Cold War.
At the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, nearly 30,000 African students attended Soviet universities.
With the disappearance of the USSR, this page was definitely turned. It is now up to the countries of origin or parents to fund the studies of those who obtain a visa for Russia.
In 2013, students from 42 African countries were studying in the former Soviet Union. They live in precariousness and insecurity, in a society gangrened by anti-black racism.
“Here it is Russia, we do not know you”
Whether they are holders of legal residence papers or not, they all live in precariousness. This is what explains this Cameroonian who entrusted to RFI.
Arriving in Moscow in 2005, he obtained a degree in business management after six years of studies. But there, no work for blacks, wearing Russian diplomas or not. To survive, you have to work in the dark, “he sighs.
Ishmael knows something about it. Originally from Côte d’Ivoire, he spends his days in the street, distributing flyers to passers-by in an icy cold.
It is ” very difficult. Less than fourteen degrees, less fifteen. You do not have a choice. You can not stay at home. Who is going to give you money? “
At his side, his Congolese friend did not make the trip to Moscow to study. He arrived there in 2011, fleeing his country, hoping to reach western Europe. His dream stopped in the Russian capital where he was surprised by the anti-black racism that gangrene the company.
” I have tears in my eyes when I say that. It’s not easy to live here. We are in the 21 th century, but until now,
Without papers and without legal existence
Without papers, all those Africans who have studied in Russia do not exist legally. They are therefore not allowed to work.
” I remember,” says a Malian who has lived in Moscow for 5 years, it was in 2013. We worked hard on a construction site during the winter. At less than 20 degrees. We did a month there. We were promised a salary of 1000 euros. After a month, we asked for our money. No money. We made a noise. They called the police who threatened us to send us back in our countries. “
Their children also suffer. They can not be accommodated in public kindergartens. No vaccination for their babies born in Russian hospitals. They have no right, Testifies a Congolese woman.
In a report shot in Moscow and posted on the site Totem-World , several African students testify to their difficulties living in Russia. A Cameroonian student explains that he has to work underground to survive. It is better to go and get a little job away from the capital in the countryside, “he explains.” Before, it was because life was dear to Moscow that people went to the country. But now it is much more because it is dangerous for foreign students to stay in Moscow. They are not sure to return home when they go out in the morning. ”
Targeted by Russian ultra-nationalists
They are French-speaking, originating in West and Central Africa, but also English-speaking from Zimbabwe or Kenya. To their miserable living conditions in Russia is added daily violence. They all live with fear in the stomach.
“There, racism is frontal,” says H.Baldé, a Guinean who studied in Russia for five years. He wanted to warn his compatriots in the video below, posted on You Tube.
” Living in Russia as black is extremely difficult. You’re going out on the street and people are going to call you a monkey. You are going to meet people stuffed that will attack and massacre you. There are plenty of students who have been killed because of their skin color alone … You should never walk alone in the street. You have to be with other students. ”
For nothing in the world, Balde would not return to the former Soviet Union. He advises young Africans to avoid this destination.
Many people want to return to their country among the Cameroonians who make up one of the most important African communities in Russia. But the volunteers at the beginning are destitute. Unable to fund the return ticket to the homeland.