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Moscow’s ‘Little Kabul’

The Russian capital is home to a large Afghan community centered around the Soviet-era Sevastopol Hotel. Some 8,000 Afghans live in and around the complex, which has been transformed into a shopping and business center dominated by Afghan bazaars, butcher shops, and restaurants.

About 150,000 Afghans live in Russia, and around a third reside in Moscow. Most fled Afghanistan in the wake of the Soviet withdrawal that ended in 1989 and the brutal civil war of the 1990s. Russia hosts the third-largest overseas Afghan community, after Pakistan and Iran.
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An entrance to the Sevastopol complex. Many locals still refer to it as a hotel, although it was transformed into a business center in the late 1990s by the local Afghan community. Three buildings host nearly 1,000 shops. 
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An entrance to the Sevastopol complex. Many locals still refer to it as a hotel, although it was transformed into a business center in the late 1990s by the local Afghan community. Three buildings host nearly 1,000 shops. 

Mohammad is among hundreds of Afghan shopkeepers at the Sevastopol Hotel. He was a soldier in the Afghan military in the 1980s and came to Moscow in the early 1990s. “I already spoke some Russian when I was still in Afghanistan, and I had met Russians, so it wasn’t that difficult to integrate here,” he says. “It also helps that there are so many of us Afghans here in Moscow." He still dreams of returning to Afghanistan. “Maybe when I’m an old man,” he says.
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Mohammad is among hundreds of Afghan shopkeepers at the Sevastopol Hotel. He was a soldier in the Afghan military in the 1980s and came to Moscow in the early 1990s. “I already spoke some Russian when I was still in Afghanistan, and I had met Russians, so it wasn’t that difficult to integrate here,” he says. “It also helps that there are so many of us Afghans here in Moscow." He still dreams of returning to Afghanistan. “Maybe when I’m an old man,” he says.

A grocery shop where Mohammad and his wife sell dried fruit and other Afghan food
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A grocery shop where Mohammad and his wife sell dried fruit and other Afghan food

Wahidullah was born in Moscow to Afghan parents who immigrated in the late 1980s. The 25-year-old has never been to Afghanistan, but he hopes to visit the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, where his parents are from. “I’m far from my ancestral homeland, but at the same time I’m close because of the large Afghan community here.”
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Wahidullah was born in Moscow to Afghan parents who immigrated in the late 1980s. The 25-year-old has never been to Afghanistan, but he hopes to visit the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, where his parents are from. “I’m far from my ancestral homeland, but at the same time I’m close because of the large Afghan community here.”

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