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Labour migrants start leaving Russia

December 23, 2014, 19:39 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© Yuru Smityuk/TASS Archive

MOSCOW, December 23. /TASS/. A weak ruble, tighter rules of doing business for foreign nationals and the struggle against legal abusers have greatly contributed to a situation many petty persons would very much like to see: labour migrants have started leaving Russia. This is fraught with great problems for the Russian economy, experts warn.

Last week saw the end of the second phase of Operation Migrant-2014, which started on December 8. As the daily Novyie Izvestia reports, the overall number of guest workers detained in police sweeps may reach 100,000. Several thousand migrants must be deported from Russia.

According to the October 2014 statistics available from the Federal Migration Service (FMS) the number of illegal migrants in Russia stood at 4 million, while the overall number of guest workers in Russia is estimated at 12 million.

Police say the sweeps have greatly improved the crime situation in the Russian capital. As the Moscow police headquarters has said, the first phase of the operation reduced the number of robberies to 22.2%, of armed robberies, by 8.1%, and of car thefts, by 15.4%.

Against the backdrop of expulsions of migrants from Moscow the past few weeks have seen a different trend: a weaker ruble and tighter conditions for doing business in Russia have forced guest workers to leave Russia of their own accord.

Whereas just recently a guest worker in Moscow was able to make up to $800 a month, now $300 is the limit such an employee can hope for. Besides, by January 1, 2015 all foreign citizens will be able to enter Russia only upon the presentation of a foreign passport. Besides, starting from next year Russia will introduce a license system: labour migrants will have to buy an employment license, which in Moscow, for instance, will cost 4,000 rubles (about $75).

Besides, all migrants will have to pass tests in the Russian language, the basics of Russian legislation and the history of Russia. According to the head of the Federation of Migrants of Russia, Mohammad Amin Madjumder, many will find this unaffordable. He believes that next year more than 25% of migrants, currently residing in Russia, will seek fortune elsewhere.

“The bulk of our people feel like going home and not getting back to Russia again. One thousand Russian rubles today in Tajikistan cost about 65 somoni, in contrast to 126-30 somoni just recently. The question is where they will go? According to our forecasts, Syria and Iraq,” the leader of the Tajik Labor Migrants, Karomat Sharipov, has said on a radio station in Moscow.

“Almost all of those who worked on the markets have left. Nobody needs bazaar vendors these days,” said the spokesman for the association of the Kyrgyz diaspora Zamandash, Ruslan Eshimov. As for those employed in industries, they “keep working as usual,” he said. “If the ruble firms to 50-55 rubles a dollar and prices are stable, vendors will be coming back,” he forecasts.

“Many migrants will go home to celebrate New Year, but it is too early to say a real exodus of labour migrants from Russia has begun,” the daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta quotes the chief of the Federal Migration Service (FMS), Konstantin Romodanovsky, as saying. “We have never opposed the arrival of guest workers. But we have always been telling them they will have to work in accordance with our rules, to have their labour activity and their presence in Russia formalized properly and to pay taxes. We are for having guest workers, but only legal ones, whom we need.”

The Russian authorities underestimate the seriousness of the situation with labour migrants outflow, says senior lecturer at the public and municipal administration chair at the Russian Academy of the National Economy and Public Administration, Tatyana Illarionova.

“There is a great deal of uncertainty ahead. Many jobs may go vacant and many industries may be harmed due to the shortage of workers,” Illarionova told TASS. In her opinion, changes in the labour migration situation are inevitable, but the authorities have not yet realized the seriousness of the problems in store for them.

 

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