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Siberian City Grinds to a Halt After Locals Protest Rape Linked to Migrant

Republic of Sakha government head Fyodor Borisov during a meeting about rally against illegal migration in Yakutsk. Vadim Sryabin / TASS

Scores of buses stopped traveling their regular routes and fruit stands closed in the Siberian city of Yakutsk following protests sparked by allegations that Central Asian migrants raped a local woman, Russian media have reported.

Three suspects were detained on charges of kidnapping and raping a local resident this week. Hundreds of locals attended rallies in the wake of the reported March 17 rape, which has been blamed on a migrant from Kyrgyzstan.

A majority of fruit and vegetable shops remained closed and bus drivers did not show up to work in Yakutsk on Tuesday, Interfax reported. Sergei Maximov, the head of the Yakutsk passenger transportation company, said some drivers avoided going to work “for fear of violence.”

Videos shared by local outlets showed locals making threats against fruit stand and fast food workers of Central Asian origin.

Local police urged residents not to sow discord and vowed to crack down on “the instigators of ethnic strife,” local media reported.

Aysen Nikolayev, the governor of the republic of Sakha, announced a raft of measures against illegal migration in the wake of the protests, including deportations and tighter restrictions for labor migrants. Nikolayev also promised that law enforcement would take crimes committed by migrants under “special control.”

The incident comes less than a year after a high-profile rape sparked ethnic tensions in Yakutsk, prompting the leader of the Kyrgyz diaspora to issue a public apology.

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