Alexa

Russian official defends new decree on migrant workers, vows stricter enforcement

Russian official defends new decree on migrant workers, vows stricter enforcement

A senior Russian immigration official on Monday defended a new government decree that puts strict new limits on foreign laborers, and vowed stricter enforcement of immigration laws.
Vyacheslav Postavnin, deputy director of the Federal Migration Service, told reporters that employers illegally hiring foreign workers would face higher fines under new rules drawn up following last week's Cabinet decree.
An estimated 10-12 million migrants are now in Russia, most illegally, he said, and the ex-Soviet republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan have the largest concentration of illegal migrants in the country.
"Without foreign workers, the economy cannot develop at the tempo that it has been growing at," said Postavnin, but he added that the flood of illegal workers had a negative side.
"Illegal immigration is a burden on the economy and the shoulders of the taxpayers, and gives rise to interethnic conflict and tensions," he said.
The issue of immigration has become a lightning rod for President Vladimir Putin's government amid rising popular resentment toward migrants _ in particular, dark-skinned migrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia. Racist attacks and hate crimes are on the rise, and the Movement Against Illegal Immigration _ a far-right, grassroots political organization _ has exploded in popularity in recent months.
Putin last month ordered new measures to reduce the employment of foreign workers in particular at Russian markets, alleging they were crowding out native Russian producers and retailers. Indoor and outdoor markets are staffed heavily by migrants from former Soviet republics, many of them working without official permission to reside or work in Russia _ and working long hours for pitifully low salaries.
According to a new Cabinet order issued last week, migrants will be prohibited from selling alcohol or pharmaceuticals as of Jan. 1 _ a decision that appears to be in response to fears of counterfeit and substandard imported pharmaceuticals as well as a recent wave of poisonings from bootleg alcohol that many Russians blame on foreigners.
As well, the number of foreigners employed in retail jobs outside of stores, such as in outdoor markets or on street corners, will gradually be reduced under the new order.
"We are obliged to defend (Russian) entrepreneurs and (the Russian) work force from such a means of competition," Postavnin said.
The new rules also give regional authorities the right to recruit foreign migrants for particular industries suffering from a lack of trained specialists, he said. Federal authorities are trying to persuade more ethnic Russians living abroad to return to their native country to work.
Russia's population has dropped precipitously in the past 15 years below 143 million, in a demographic crisis that is blamed on the economic turmoil following the Soviet collapse. Experts say the decline would be even more catastrophic were it not for migrants.


Updated : 2021-02-27 09:14 GMT+08:00