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New border crossing rule overdue - view

December 13, 2012, 6:17 UTC+3
"There are people who cross the border 400 times year; a year doesn't have that many days!" the first deputy speaker said
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MOSCOW, December 13 (Itar-Tass) — First deputy speaker of the Federation Council upper house of the Russian parliament Alexander Torshin said the new rule requiring citizens of former Soviet republics to have international passports in order to enter Russia is long overdue. Torshin said so in comments on President Vladimir Putin's annual state-of-the-nation address to the Federal Assembly.

"It has long been a pressing problem. We met our /CIS/ partners halfway /in the issue of border crossing with domestic passports/ only because the partners said "we have no money. Today, Vladimir Vladimirovich clearly said - "give them money," the parliamentarian underlined.

The unregistered crossing of the Russian border with CIS passports plays in the hand of drug trafficking. "Drug mules walk around here and there /across the border/ as in their native village. There are people who cross the border 400 times year; a year doesn't have that many days!" the first deputy speaker said.

For his part, head of the house committee for constitutional legislation and legal and judicial issues Andrei Klishas said the ban on entering Russia with CIS domestic passports would be implemented "in a correct and balanced form", and that it was not aimed at restricting legal migration.

The solution will probably require amendments to the effective legislation.

"Careful work and close cooperation with the migration service and the Interior Ministry is needed. I believe we'll work out a very correct and balanced legislative decision to fulfill the tasks," Klishas said underlining that the purpose of this move was not to restrict migration, but control these flows.

Federal Migration Service director Konstantin Romodanovsky said the ban would benefit Russia as it would enable it to ensure more effective control.

"Today, we do not enter entry or exit notes in CIS domestic passports, as our legislation does not envision it. Automated checkpoint centers and the availability of foreign travel passport are concrete measures to control the entry/exit of foreign citizens. It will optimize and enhance control considerably. Of course, amendments to the effective agreements between the countries will be necessary," Romodanovsky said.

Lawmakers at the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament said the new rule is not an indicator that relations in the former Soviet space have been worsening.

"In the first place, it means streamlining the migration control," chairman of the house committee for CIS affairs and Russian diaspora relations Leonid Slutsky told reporters on Wednesday.

Beginning from 2015, entry to Russia should only be possible with international passports for citizens of all countries, including those of the CIS, Putin said , “I ask the agencies concerned to work through this issue with their CIS colleagues.”

“We should create all conditions for the revival of the Russian world and support of our compatriots. In this respect, the principles of simplified citizenship procedure stated in the address are very important. Russia must receive everyone who wishes to come to us, especially the descendants of those who lived in Russia, in the Russian Empire,” Slutsky said.

For his part, head of the house committee for civil, criminal, arbitration, and procedural legislation Pavel Krasheninnikov stated that he supported the president in whatever concerned stricter responsibility for illegal migration to Russia, including illegal labor migration.

Along with tougher responsibility, the law will envision an easier citizenship procedure for compatriots. “Russia needs such people, but they should give up their previous citizenship, of course,” Krasheninnikov said.

Member of the committee for CIS affairs Umakhan Umakhanov believes that entering Russia with foreign travel passports will “enable the state to toughen control over the migration flow to Russia." At the same time, simplified border crossing rules for citizens of the Customs Union and the Common Economic State will strengthen the status of these supranational entities in the CIS space.

In Umakhanov’s view, it is very important that the president touched upon the issue of ethnic and religious relations in the country. “Russia is a multi-nation state. The provocations by nationalists in the society generate conflicts in ethnic and religious relations. They are a direct threat to national security,” he noted.

First deputy chairman of the State Duma committee for the affairs of nationalities Mikhail Starshinov, in comments on Putin's initiative to simplify the citizenship procedure for the compatriots who are ethnic Russians, said it pleased him to see the head of state point out the necessity to de-bureaucratize what this country was vitally interested in. "It's high time to remove the obstacles in the way of those within to come to Russia and live here. Those who were born in the USSR make a huge stratum, they include intellectuals and skilled personnel."

At present, many specialists from former Soviet republics already work in Russia; they are executives, engineer and scientists. Since they work here, Russia needs to create conditions for them to stay, because they are the best representatives of their peoples, Starshinov said.

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