Migrant workers from Central Asia should not be encouraged to remain in Russia, Moscow City Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in an interview with Moskovskiye Novosty newspaper on Thursday this week.
“People who speak Russian badly and who have a different culture are better off living in their own country. Therefore, we do not welcome their adaptation in Moscow,” he said in an interview during which he also expressed hostility toward the idea of ethnic ghettos.
“Moscow is a Russian city and it should remain that way. It’s not Chinese, not Tajik and not Uzbek.”
The Russian capital, like the country as a whole, depends heavily on migrant labor, but there is widespread opposition in many areas of society to higher levels of immigration.
There are around 5 million migrant workers in Russia of which about 3 million are illegal, the Federal Migration Service said in March. Russia has the world’s largest number of illegal migrants, accounting for almost 7 percent of the country’s working population, according to a 2012 report by the OECD.
Russia passed a law in December 2012 requiring a mandatory minimum level of ability in the Russian language for migrant workers in certain professions including retail and public services.
On May 22 Moscow police reported that over the four first months of 2013 the number of crimes committed by illegal migrants has grown by 42 percent, whereas the hard crimes committed by migrants has grown by 72 percent.
“Just imagine: if not for those migrant crime stats, Moscow would have the lowest crime rate in whole Russia,” commented Moscow Police Chief Anatoly Yakunin.
The violation of Russian migration law is subject to both administrative and criminal liability. Those who entered the country legally, but failed to obey migration rules or worked without a special permission face a punishment of up to 5,000 rubles ($US160) or expulsion from the country.
In December 2012, Russia moved to toughen punishment for illegal entry into the country. Under amendments signed by President Vladimir Putin, a foreigner who failed to leave Russia within 30 days after their entry visa expired may be banned from coming to the country for three years. A foreign citizen, who had been barred from entering Russia but still crossed the border, may face a fine of up to 300,000 rubles ($9,500), up to four years of compulsory labor, or up to four years in jail.
In the meantime, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has warned that the uncontrollable flow of migrants might threaten national security as the illegal aliens might have not only criminal, but terrorist pasts.
“We have discovered that certain forces within the illegal migration actually conduct subversive and intelligence activities against the Russian Federation,” stressed FSB Service One deputy head Aleksandr Roschupkin, speaking at parliamentary hearings in the upper house, the Federation Council.