In this cross interview, two activists from Central Asia, Zarnigor Omonillaeva and Karimdzhon Yorov, reflect on their trajectories as both migrants and human rights activists specialising in supporting migrants in Russia. Based on their experiences, they describe the living, working, dying and repatriation conditions of Central Asian migrants, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are made difficult by the opacity of Russian migration institutions and policies, the hostility of the population fostered at the state level, against which the low investment of the countries of origin offers little protection. In response to this, the sphere of aid to migrants has been structured for over two decades. It is made up of a large number of actors (state institutions in Russia and in the countries of origin, support associations, informal ethnic or village organisations, specialised lawyers, etc.) who know and sometimes even train each other — despite the Russian government’s campaign against these organisations in recent years.