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Russian government does its utmost to let Ukrainian refugees start new life

June 25, 2015, 21:15 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© Yuri Smityuk/TASS

MOSCOW, June 25. /TASS/. Russia by and large copes decently with the continuing influx of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war and economic turmoil in their home country, although problems are many, analysts say. Naturally, Russia above all is interested in those who are determined to settle forever. But it does not deny assistance to those who say outright they hope to get back home sooner or later. As for ordinary Russians, they treat the forced migrants with compassion and understanding.

According to a survey by the UN High Commissioner’s Office for Refugees, Russia has accommodated more asylum-seekers than any other. For the first time in history it has accommodated two times more refugees than the United States.

The chief of the federal migration service, Konstantin Romodanovsky, said last week that 2.6 million Ukrainian citizens were in Russia at the moment. Roughly, he said, they can be divided into four groups — those visiting relatives, guest workers, defectors reluctant to participate in hostilities and refugees from the south-east of Ukraine.

"The latter number is more than one million," he said. About 550,000 have been granted temporary refuge or temporary residence permit.

"Either status allows them to stay in Russia for a long time," he said.

This is the largest ever wave of refugees Russia has had to accept. Over the five-year period of 2008-2013 those seeking temporary refuge in Russia did not exceed ten thousand.

In all, from the beginning of last year and to last May Russia spent more than 11 billion rubles ($220 million) on Ukrainian refugees and temporary migrants, the RBC Daily quotes the chief of the Federal Migration Service’s office for citizenship and residence permits, Valentina Kazakova as saying.

The Russian government takes care of the migrants’ basic needs, such as housing, nourishment and medical aid. Accommodation is the participating regions’ main spending item on the refugee assistance budget. The migrants are staying primarily at low-price hotels, rest and leisure facilities, sanatoriums and country retreats. Government-run establishments among them are few. The money goes primarily to the owners of private accommodation businesses.

The last tent camp for refugees was closed a long while ago. The refugees are given three meals a day, but the diet is rather modest. The price of each meal has to be no more than 100 rubles ($2). Cereals, pasta and some meat are the most frequent items on the menu.

According to a lecturer at the presidential academy RANEPA, Yelena Nazarova, among those who have fled the war in the south-east of Ukraine approximately one-third hope to settle in Russia forever. Most of them are family people who have managed to settle down more or less decently. The others hope to get back to their homes sooner or later.

"The Russian government has been doing a lot for the accommodation of all migrants and for social support without making any distinctions, but, of course, it is interested primarily in those who have decided to stay. Many of them are skilled personnel," Nazarova told TASS.

Examples of how Ukrainian migrants managed to settle pretty well in remote Russian provinces are many. In many places Ukrainians are highly welcome to many jobs, because they counterbalance Asian migration.

Nazarova cited opinion polls indicating that Russians have no unfriendly feelings to arriving Ukrainians by and large. On the contrary, they display sympathy and understanding.

"Of course, there are certain cases of rudeness and purely utilitarian attitude, which evoke the corresponding reaction, but such incidents are scarce," she said.

The Russian government copes with the influx of migrants from Ukraine by and large, but "some regions receiving them may fail here and there from time to time."

"In some areas everything is organized very well, while in others, sporadic problems occur," she said.

TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors