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Labor migrants in Russia to be required by law to learn Russian

April 21, 2014, 17:25 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

MOSCOW, April 21. /ITAR-TASS/. Starting from January 1, 2015, all migrants who want to live and work in the territory of Russia will be required to confirm their knowledge of Russian, knowledge of Russia’s history and basics of Russian legislation. Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed corresponding amendments to the Law “On the legal status of foreign citizens in the Russian Federation.” The authors if this initiative believe that this would help ease the cultural and language adaptation of foreign citizens in Russia. The law is good, but the question is how it will be implemented, experts say.

To confirm their knowledge, the foreigners seeking a residence and work permit in Russia will be required to submit either a certificate of passing the corresponding exams or a document of getting education in the USSR before September 1, 1991. Exception will be made only for highly qualified specialists.

The talk of poor command of the Russian language among the migrants (mainly from Central Asian countries) who come to Russia to work had started seven years ago. Russian is taught in schools of the region’s countries only formally, the generation of labor migrants who got education in the Soviet period and who speak Russian rather well, is dwindling and is being replaced by the generation of migrants who practically do not know the language.

According to the Russian Centre of Migration Studies, over the past five years the share of those who do not know Russian has increased six times. Only 50% of labor migrants are capable of filling official documents in Russian. And 15 - 20% do not know Russian at all.

“The presence in the society of a considerable number of foreigners who have no chance of fully adapting to the cultural and social conditions of the host country creates a potential threat to interethnic accord,” says an explanatory note to the bill.

Migrants will be taught Russian both in their homeland and in Russia. Centres of professional training of foreign workers who plan to move to Russia will be created abroad within the framework of the state programme “Promotion of Employment.” NGOs in different regions of Russia have already been engaged in such training of migrants for several years free of charge or on a paying basis.

The “language” law has not only supporters. For example, President of the Federation of Migrants of Russia, emigrant from Bangladesh Madjumder Muhammad Amin believes that the “new law will not work, but will become another corruption trap.” According to him, “it will be easier to buy a certificate on passing the Russian test rather than to learn the ‘great and powerful language’ even at the basic level.” Ads on the sale of the certificates have already appeared on the Internet, he added.

Director of the Sova human rights centre Aleksander Verkhovsky also noted “the high corruption risk” of the Russian language exam.

“The language exam is an instrument of regulating the migrant flow. The fact of the adoption of such a law in itself is good, in my view, but I have no 100% confidence that it will work in practice,” Tatyana Illarionova, professor of the state and municipal management department of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, told ITAR-TASS.

Pursuing the migration policy today, the authorities of not only Russia, but also of other countries world are on the horns of a dilemma, the expert believes. “On the one hand, the struggle for labor resources is underway all over the world. On the other, there are apprehensions over the way the presence of large numbers of migrants may change the mentality of the indigenous population.

The National Strategy Institute has prepared a report on migration that is replacing the Russian population. Scientists warn that the migration level is threatening Russia’s national security. According to the data collected by the report authors, the level of “accumulated” migration is nearing 30 million people.

“It might well happen that by 2050 at least half o the Russian population will consist of newcomers,” Igor Beloborodov, one of the authors of the report, adviser to the director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), told the Novye Izvestia newspaper. “This is due to the fact that problems of uncontrolled migration go hand-in-hand with the demographic crisis.

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