Support The Moscow Times!

Moscow's Most Racist Landlords Revealed


Any Muscovite will tell you that it's tough to find a place to stay in Russia's bustling capital. But for ethnic minorities, ingrained racism can make the search almost impossible. 

It is illegal for Russian landlords to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity or nationality. But the city's property listings tell a different story.

Many advertisements stipulate that any potential tenants must be of Slavic origin. Those behind the listings usually hope to avoid working with tenants from Central Asia or Russia's southern republics, while others avoid renting to foreigners in general.

Moscow property listings. Both landlords specify that they want their tenants to be Slavic (Славян).

The Robustory project is a data journalism blog ran by academic researchers. They decided to dig a little deeper into the prejudice faced by Russia's ethnic minorities in the Moscow housing market. 

The group compiled data on each of the 35,796 Moscow property listings on Russian rental and real estate site on April 2, 2017. They found that 5,780 of those ads — roughly 16 percent — discriminated on the basis of ethnicity or nationality. 

A map of apartments available in Moscow, colored in relation to whether landlords restrict potential tenants on ethnic grounds. Robustory

The group used these numbers to find the percentage of discriminatory listings per neighborhood. The Severny district came out as Moscow's most racist, with 58 percent of landlords stipulating that tenants must be of Slavic origins. 

It was followed by Kapotnya and Vnukovo, where 50 percent and 45 percent of adverts mentioned race respectively.

The “most-welcoming” areas of the capital were close to the city center. Fewer than one percent of property listings in the Arbat district mentioned race. Just over one percent in the Basmanny and Tverskoi neighborhoods limited rentals by ethnicity. 

The percentage of apartment listings which specify the race of potential tenants, divided by neighborhood. Robustory

Researchers linked this trend to Moscow property prices, which also rise sharply close to the city center.

The apartment listings studied by the team, categorized by monthly rent. Robustory

With migrants often confined to lower paid jobs, this trend may be a reflect how tenants from Central Asia are less likely to apply to prospective tenants for prime Moscow real estate. 

Researchers from Robustory speculated that "the more expensive the apartment, the more willing that a landlord will be ready to tolerate 'non-Slavic' tenants."

You can read Robustory's full report in Russian here.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.