Russia busts 150 illegal migrants in Moscow: officials

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Russia have deported dozens of illegal immigrants from Central Asia after a raid uncovered 150 people living in a bomb shelter under a sewing-needle factory, migration officials said here Thursday.

A raid on the underground bunker last week uncovered around 150 illegal immigrants who slept on bunk beds and had not left the factory's grounds for up to a year, a spokeswoman for the migration office told the Interfax news agency.

The Mostochlegmash factory in western Moscow makes needles and other instruments for the textile industry, but it was not clear if it directly employed the migrants housed below its main space.

A video from the raid posted on Lifenews website claimed the shelter was accessible through an outside car garage and contained showers, kitchens, and prayer rooms.

Russian cities are still dotted with underground bomb shelters, built during the Soviet era, many of which are now used for commercial purposes such as warehouses or garages.

Moscow has long been a magnet for migrant workers from Central Asia and the Caucasus, especially as it faced labour shortages during the pre-crisis construction boom.

Large-scale immigration from mainly Muslim ex-Soviet states has fueled nationalist and xenophobic attitudes among Russians.

© 2011 AFP

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