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Police Detain 600 in Latest Market Migrant Raid

Market workers being taken for further questioning at the last raid on the market.

Police on Tuesday detained more than 600 people at the Sadovod market in southeast Moscow as part of the ramped up efforts to tackle illegal immigration in the city.

The market, a sprawling complex known as the workplace of many Central Asian immigrants, was raided to check for workers in violation of Russian migration law in an operation called "Safeguard-2," Interfax reported.

The hundreds of immigrants detained were taken to local police departments, background checked and fingerprinted, an Interior Ministry spokesperson said. It is unclear if any of those detained will be charged with any crimes.

Raids on markets have become more frequent, gaining momentum in the run up to September's mayoral election, in which both Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and opposition candidate Alexei Navalny called for tougher immigration rules. More raids followed after ethnic riots erupted last month in the southern district of Biryulyovo, when ethnic Russians attacked the workplace of an Azeri suspected of killing a Russian.

Sadovod was previously raided at the end of October, when more than 1,000 immigrants from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were detained.

Last week the head of Moscow's trade and services department Alexei Nemeryuk said that the city plans to close 26 markets within a year and that checks on foreign workers would continue not only in pop-up markets but in larger shopping complexes like Sadovod.

Marat Bugulov, who headed October's operation, said police also found evidence of the illegal sale of alcohol and other illegal goods.

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