The Ordeal Of Blacks And Nigerians In Russia

by Bode Eluyera

  This article is a sort of a rejoinder to Mr. Nworah’s article written in early June in one of the Nigerian web site titled “Confessions of an Immigrant .” In the article, Mr. Nworah wrote about his ordeal as an immigrant in foreign countries, and in London specifically.


I have decided to supplement Mr. Nworah’s account by writing about the predicament of Africans, Nigerians in particular, in Russia.


Mr. Nworah needs to be commended for his courage in writing this article and most especially, for the manner in which he articulated his viewpoints. His story is really very moving.


 I came into the country officially as a Bureau for External Aid (BEA) scholarship student.  After living here for some time, I came to the conclusion that all things being equal, it’s better to live at home and contribute to the development of our country; if we really love it. Why do we have to continue developing societies/countries that are much more developed than ours; moreso at the expense of our dignity?  I strongly believe that we hold a moral responsibility to our country. If we all live in America or Western Europe, then who’s going to develop our country for us? As the sayings go: “You can’t eat your cake and have it.” And “As you lay your bed so you lie on it.”




  Compared to our situation here in Russia, I do rather say that Mr. Nworah is very lucky that he only gets discriminated against in terms of jobs. Things are much worse here. It’s extremely dangerous for a dark skinned person to live, work and study in Russia. Africans are hunted down and killed by the Russian skin-heads on a regular basis.




 A few months ago, a final year Senegalese student – Lampsar Samba was shot dead at close range in the midst of his Senegalese friends on their way back from a night club in St. Petersburg. Others had to take to their heels to escape death. A couple of months before Samba’s cold murder, another student was stabbed to death by the skin heads in Voronezh. Within the past 2 years many Africans and dark-skinned people, mostly students, have met their untimely death in the hands of numerous Russian neo-fascist groups. In fact, St. Petersburg and Voronezh are notorious for killing foreigners, and both cities are now called ‘The cities of death.’  Till the time of writing, nobody has been arrested or brought to trial for any of the killings of the Africans.


 The Russian court recently acquitted a skin-head accused of stabbing to death a Tajik girl. Tajikistan was part of the former Soviet Union, but it is now an independent country.  It based its decision on the fact that there was not enough evidence to classify the killing as racially motivated.


  The Russian government classification of these obvious racial killings as ‘hooliganism’ and not ‘racially motivated attacks’ has only worsened the situation. The position of the Russian government on this issue has not only denied justice to the murdered but has encouraged the skin-heads to continue carrying out their heinous acts. Africans are attacked on a regular basis. And whenever they are lucky to escape death, many are hospitalised for months, forced to pay for their treatment and become invalid for life without any compensation.  Many Nigerians that were framed for drug trafficking and denied fair trial have lost their lives in Russian prisons.


 The Nigerian embassy in Moscow does not have an official record or figure of Nigerians that have died in Russian prisons through diseases, hard and inhuman prison condition, malnutrition and deliberate killings. Yes, deliberate killings. A number of Nigerians were simply murdered by the prison authorities because of racial hatred or personal clashes, or by the police to avoid divulging information that might implicate them. There are reported cases of Russian police officers training the skin-heads in the act of street physical combat. There are many occasions too when Russian police officers change into civilian clothes and took part in the beating and killing of Africans.





 In Russia, promotion of a police officer depends not on the number of cases won but on the number of cases sent to court for hearing. Police harassments of Africans are very rampant. It’s a normal scene to see an African being stopped for an ID check and later forced to undress to his pants and subjected to humiliating public search; irrespective of whether the temperature was -30 degrees centigrade! They justified this humiliation to a search for narcotics. If your ID is in order, and no drugs eventually is found on you, nevertheless, you still need to part with substantial amount to gain your freedom. Otherwise, you might be taken to the station – on the pretext that they want to establish your real identity – and locked up for hours or days with criminals, hooligans in a windowless cell with a very strong odour that can make you to vomit or faint.


  There were also a number of cases when Russian police broke into apartments of Nigerians, ordered everybody to lie down; and those who had the courage or the guts to query the police action were beaten to unconsciousness and handcuffed. The apartments are afterwards subjected to vigorous search – which could last for hours or take the whole day – while the residents continue lying down handcuffed with face down. And irrespective of whether drugs were found or not, everybody in the house – including those who were just visiting are charged for drug trafficking. In some cases, the innocent ones might have to bribe the police with hundreds or thousands of dollars to avoid prosecution.  Those that have no money are tortured until they admitted or confessed to drug trafficking.

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 The Russian police very often play different kinds of psychological games with Africans. The most popular is when a police patrol car intentionally slows down beside an African walking on the street and continues following him to wherever he goes. The aim of this game is to provoke the African. With a police car continuosly following him: will he take to his heels? Confront the police or simply ignore them and go his way? In case, he chooses confronting the police, then he’s easily accused of disrespect to the police which could lead to serious beatings and detention for a couple of hours or days in the police station, or spending a couple of days or months in the hospital. Can you imagine!




  We live in fear for our lives every second, either inside our apartments or on the streets. We are attacked by skin-heads on the streets and face police harassments and extortions  both on the streets and inside our apartments. Living, working, studying or visiting Russia now is like taking a gamble with your life. 




  The nonchalant attitude of the Nigerian embassy has not only worsened things but given the Russian police and the neo-nazist groups a carte-blanch to continue their unjustified harassments, unlawful detention, arrests and killings of Nigerians. There was a time when the Nigerian embassy told the Russian law enforcement authority that it did not desire to be informed about any Nigerian arrested for drug trafficking or any other crime, and that the Russian authority was free to take any action it thought fit against Nigerians to teach them some lessons.  The Russian police, on many occasions have framed Nigerians in many crimes. The most common attrocity of the Russian police before was planting of drugs on Nigerians.




 It is practically impossible to get a fair trial in Russian courts. Judges are under the strict control of the government. Holding or showing your green passport is tantamount to an automatic guilty verdict. Practically all those that have been imprisoned or killed in Russian prisons are southerners, and at least about 75% of them are Ibos.



  A very popular case was the murder of Tony ‘Montana’ – a Nigerian/Ibo postgraduate student at the Friendship University in Moscow. Tony was actually involved in drug trafficking, but was doing it under the cover of the police and the Russian state security service. Unfortunately, Tony ran out of luck when he was arrested either by another group of police men or from his own group who wanted to extort more money from him for their protection service. Tony was eventually murdered in prison through injection to stop him from divulging information about his collaborators in the Russian police and the state security service. Those that saw Tony before his death said that he was hail and healthy. All of a sudden he was transfered to another prison very far from Moscow. Tony suddenly fell sick and died immediately. No independent autopsy was conducted on Tony’s corpse.  Neither was a single letter written by the Nigerian embassy to protest his death nor was any enquiry made about the circumstances of his death.

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bill September 15, 2011 - 10:57 am

I don’t think black people are really wanted anywhere in the world, including Africa.

World traveller December 5, 2010 - 1:22 am

@ Clemmie, If I were you, I wouldn’t go to Russia at this time. These stories are real. Although I’ve never been to Russia, my husband and I (I’m Black and he’s White) were going to make a trip there this year and I decided to do some research. Needless to say, I took a trip elsewhere. I don’t understand why many white countries are this way towards Blacks.

We’ve traveled to many parts of Africa and I’ve never heard of Whites being attacked for their skin color. The fact that someone thinks their skin color entitles them to murder or maim another is something I will never understand. Take a trip to Ghana or let’s start patronising the continent of Africa and other Black countries.

bih September 25, 2010 - 7:07 pm

drug dealers or no drug dealers,they are still nigerians,whether u like it or not and u got to defend them.simple

Clemmie June 7, 2010 - 6:54 am

These comments are really scaring me. I hosted a Russian student, a brilliant young lady, she invited me to come and spend time in Volgograd, Russia this summer. I have changed my mind. I am an African American retired female educator. I do not need any of these racial problems. There are enough of them in the USA. Advice. Should I make the trip? You tell me.

Morens December 27, 2009 - 5:28 am

Omg! This is just so sad. I had tears in my eyes as I read this article about happenings in Russia. I live in Canada but I have few friends in Russia and they tell me about racism and all that but i never for one day wondered it was this bad. I send my prayer to all Nigerians and every other person from Africa living in Russia that God Almight guides them and bring them home safely. This is just too much. It’s sad people have to go thru all that. If our Country Nigeria was not corrupt, who will go to Russia for anything?

Bode thanks for sharing, doh this is really sad. God bless you

IF.......... September 30, 2009 - 6:27 pm

I’m a Nigerian scholarship student studying in saint Petersburg, what the writer said is absolutely true. Its only the almighty God that is guiding we foreigner here especially Africans. i have been a victim when a friend came from another city to visit me, i decided to take him to Hermitage one of the world biggest museum, on our way back we were attacked skinheads they were shouting “RUSSIA IS FOR RUSSIANS”, we ran over 200ms for our lives and many other sad sorries, just couple of months ago a Ghanaian student was stabbed 33 times, as God may have it, he survived it. my prayer is that God would be with us and grant me the few years left for me to finish , so i can gently go back to my lovely country and i would not advice any African to come here to study because here is not the place for us!!!!!

Omo July 14, 2009 - 1:47 pm

The case stated by Mr.Eluyera is gruesome and must say some of these things happened but do we blame the people over there in Russia or people trying to find a living there?

We have read about stories in other countries,it does happened even in France ,UK USA

I think one of the things Nigeria govt.have to do is to make their feeling be known .If you want to come to do biz in Nigeria ,russia should give account of our citizens over there and promise that they will be treated legally and be protected even from the govt.

I will raise a point here ,you Naijas also need to be law abiding .Stop proffing that you are smart and untouchable.

Lets make friends and not creating enemies.

Yes ,they do not like you then stay where you are suppose to be at least your office and campuses until the govt can make a point .If possible lets get our wishes known to the parliament in Moscow

Devushka September 26, 2008 - 3:31 pm

As an expatriate currently in Nigeria, I’ve also lived in the former Soviet Union. The racism and xenophobia in the FSU is very real; During my years there, I knew of African Americans who were beaten up and harrassed by people making monkey jestures at them. Its very sad and disturbing and I caution anyone of color (not just Africans but Asians too) when going to that part of the world to be extremely careful. And I’ve also gone as far as to caution some folks against working and studying there for the same reasons.

I have no doubt that Nigerians are targeted by the police and hooligans for harrassment. Nigerians are targeted elsewhere too. Unfortunately, Nigerians do not enjoy the best reputation overseas and naturally this is unfair to law abiding Nigerians. However, those who choose to go to another country and deal drugs should be punished- full stop. While I can be sypathetic to those who are harrassed due to race (the story of the young girl stabbed 9 times is particularly tragic), its hard to have similar sympathy for known drug dealers.

Your article would have had more credibility had you not included examples of Nigerian drug dealers. Any Nigerian dealing drugs in places like Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Nigeria, etc. etc. is asking for trouble and makes it difficult for fellow Nigerians who want to legitimately live and study in these places.

XXXXXXXXX September 24, 2008 - 4:56 pm

I lived in Saint Petersburg Russia with my grandmother, i am half Russian and half Nigerian, i worked there for a while, yes all that is said above is true, it is a very scary and dangerous place for anybody of color to be, its unbelievable how blood thirsty and extremely narrow minded those Russians are, i was there when the killings mentioned earlier took place and NO ONE CARED, there was also the stabbing of a 9 year old mixed girl 9 times in the head, it was never reported on the news, they are like visious blood thirsty animals, i was always afraid to go to work in the morning and to come home too, you never know who might be following you so i learnet all the ways in and out of my yard and i used a differnt one everyday as much as i could, its a feeling i never want o remember, its horrible.

Adeniyi September 8, 2008 - 12:16 pm

please bros dont scare me cos am intending to come to russia before the year ruins out

David September 7, 2008 - 4:48 pm

i find this article believable, but with limitations. If your lights could be law breakers, then what was exected. “Returning from night club he was shot dead, “what could have happned in the club, we cant tell. If we had evidences of innocent individuals, then i think the Embassy might intervene, but knowing they are involved in a critical social vice most dreaded, intervention by Embassy would paint black the nation even worse than we think it is. Its better to be careful, but dont be too carefull else you get yourself hyper. The greatest prayer someone will pray for you is “GOD BE WITH YOU”. Its my prayer for YOU.

deji August 7, 2008 - 3:54 pm

My nigerian brothers and sisters, how about we give this revolutionary and drastic step a try: DON’T DEAL IN DRUGS ABROAD, AND AT HOME, DON’T LOOT THE TREASURY AS PART OF THE PERKS OF PUBLIC OFFICE. Maybe then we too will have a country that’s not a stinking cesspit.

oyin August 12, 2007 - 10:02 am

well its a pity the only people you could mustar up are drug dealers but even drug dealers have a right for justice but what about the innocent nigerians and africans and sorry but some people dont understand that the nigerian government actually aid these students to study abroad in russia its a pity they are abondoned at the end i study in belarus i understand, nigerans dont like ourselves in nigeria how much more a foregin land.

Andrew Jones January 10, 2007 - 8:36 am

I stayed in Voronezh as a student 10 years ago. I met a very few African students while i was there but never got to know them well. I can say however that racism is evident even as a white English person. How much worse it must be as an African. I find the stories posted believable.Those that are in the position of living in Russia hopefully have positive stories of good people too. I do not want to give advice but i do feel that even when times are difficult we have to do our best to better the world. I hope that you feel that you are doing what you can to live your life the best you can.

tallon January 3, 2007 - 6:33 am

"shot dead at close range in the midst of his Senegalese friends on their way back from a night club in St. Petersburg."

Man me, una for there know say lynching dey happen, yet still una dey go nightclub. I tire ooo!

Anonymous December 31, 2006 - 2:15 pm

ala bekee is not by force. If Russia is really as bad as this article makes it sound for africans or blacks in general, why do people keep going there?

Why would anyone live in constant fear and with no dignity is a foreign land when they have a home in Nigeria?

Anonymous December 29, 2006 - 9:56 pm

You have provided very bad examples for your case. The picture you paint is not totally unbelievable however you have introduced some element of sentiments into it. Let us face the reality here for onces. If any citizen from any country breaks the law in another country and it is established to be so then his/her home country government will not intervene to save his/her skin. Intervention will only happen if that citizen is going to be subjected to a cruel and unusual punishment that has been outlawed in the home country. Now Nigerian embassy cannot intervene in Russia because the punishment meted out to these law breaker is not cruel or unusual by Nigerian standard. Don&#39;t you get it. Also remember that in the face of inadequate resources provided to the embassy the criminals or those that have been established to have criminal tendencies are on their own. You have been very uncharitable to the Nigerian embassy officials. You have drawn a very illogical conclusion that the embassy does not care for southerner because the ambassadors have been mostly northerners. Well I find that assertion a very prejudiced view in the same league as the skin heads having a prejudiced view of Africans. I can assure you that if the ambassadors were from the south they would equally find it more expedient to deal with the issues of the non-payment of their staff salaries than going to intervene unbehalf of people involved in shady activities. Indeed there are institutional racism in Russia but it does not help if many of our people are involved with criminal activities. This put the life of innocent people at risk and it is the innocent ones that you should fight for. If John were an american, his government would have intervened because his treatment by the russian will be a cruel and unusual punishment for an american. But for Africans our government treats us worse so why would such a government consider it important to intervene. Your view about the Nigerian embassy will sound more credible if you provide an instance in which an innocent Nigerian was not spoken for by the embassy.

Aminu Wouba December 27, 2006 - 6:03 pm

The only solutions to these problems is that Africans must control their populations and stop bringing people into the world that they cannot support at home and also develop their own lands.

prince kennedy Iyoha December 27, 2006 - 5:09 pm

Mr Bode Eluyera.

What a tragic story you just related. To my understanding, the government of Vladimir putin is aware of these crimes, and chooses not to do anything to remedy the situation? You are also making us to understand that the Nigeria representative in Russia is corrupt and therefore dont have the moral authority to confront the Russians? Or that the Nigerian ambassador to Russia is ineffective because he is from the northern part of Nigeria?

We have read in the European media of the activities of some ignorant members of the Russian community called the skinhead, and the effort of the Russian government to eradicate this unwanted set of people from its society, we have also seen images of the Russian police fighting against this groups. Your mention of the involvements of the Russian police in humiliating immigrants in general, is a thing to worry about, because if the police that are supposed to protect the lives and properties of citizens are involved in the harassment of persons on the street, it means the country is unsafe to live. Like Russia, and every other nations of the world, the possibility of having bad eggs in the police force is probably. But to accuse the entire Russian police as part of a plane to humiliate immigrants particularly African immigrants in Russia is a matter of concern.

Mr. Bode. I think there is a need for Africans resident in Russia to organize themselves, with a purpose to defending yourselves against the so called skinheads, and to try to improve the image of Africans in general, and Nigerians in particular. For an ambassador of a country to deny its own, means that he is ashamed of the actions and activities of Nigerians resident in Russia, not the reason you mentioned in your article, that he hails from the North of the country.

I cannot comprehend why some Nigerians fills they have right to go unto another mans country and destroy the fabrics of that society and then hope to go unpunished, the fact that easy money comes from dubious activities like drug trafficking, and other offences like farcifying documents and the traffic of fellow Nigerians for prostitution is not the only way to earn a living in Europe. The activities of this dubious Nigerians put the lives of other noble Nigerians in particular, and Africans in general at risk.

My Advice to you Mr. Bode is to try to put your house in order, organize our people resident in that country, and try to build a reputation for yourselves, help the police of that country to fish out the bad eggs among you, and see if your society will not gain respect from the ambassador of Nigeria, and the Russian authorities. I am convinced you have the capacity to do it. Helping to build Nigeria can be done in all level without waiting to be the president of the country. I am doing just the same in my location, and many Nigerians all around the world are doing one thing or the other to help promote the image and statures of our great Nation.

kpor2005 December 26, 2006 - 6:46 pm

I have friends studying in Russia and they corroborrate your story on the activities of the chauvinistic Russian skin-heads. However, I am disappointed in your article because the only two examples of victims of Russian persecution you gave are drug dealers. I mean confirmed drug dealers…there are many innocent Nigerians subjected to discrimination and persecution than the two drug dealers you want the Nigerian Embassy to go and defend. Please, don't perpetuate that myth of all Nigerians been drug-dealers. You should have sighted modest Nigerians who have been unjustly persecuted, which of course is true.


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