Can Russia bring its people back from abroad?
There is a lack of professional workers in Russia. The issue stems from numerous upheavals of recent years as well as demographic gaps - a consequence of a distant war. The resettlement of Russians living outside of Russia could solve these problems. But this obvious solution for a long time could not be translated into a conscious government policy.
The situation began to change in September of 2012, when the President of the Russian Federation approved the state program to assist voluntary resettlement to the Russian Federation of Russians living abroad. Is this program effective? Only six months after the beginning of its operation one can most definitely say that the improvements are substantial. In 2012, about 63 thousand people have moved to Russia, which is equal to the number recorded during the preceding five years.
Most people come from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, and 61 percent of them are Russians. They mainly choose to settle in such regions of Russia as Lipetsk, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Primorsky and Krasnoyarsk Krai.
After the explosive growth in the first year of adoption of the State Program, the inflow stabilized at about 25,000 a year, but the measures taken allow to expect that, starting 2014, Russia will see at least 50,000 people each year. In addition, 48 federal subjects expressed interest in new fellow citizens.
What can make the process of relocation stable and irreversible? Of course, the first factor is the material one. Approximately eight billion rubles were allocated to the program through 2015. Legislation guaranteeing the returning Russians compensation and financial aid in the amount of 240 thousand rubles for the program participants and 120 thousand rubles for their family members will be adopted. It is equally important to prepare jobs and housing for immigrants. 48 regional programs have been developed and are under approval by federal agencies.
Very often the Russians, especially those residing in foreign countries, are ill-informed about the fact that Russia is interested in their return. To deal with this issue, approximately 140 million rubles are allocated annually for advocacy efforts. A dedicated Internet portal will be operating as well as magazines and addendums to daily newspapers focused on Russians living abroad.
Preferences of the newcomers to one of the most hospitable and popular regions - the Krasnoyarsk Krai - are particularly interesting. According to its governor Lev Kuznetsov, over 60 percent of them are people with higher and specialized secondary education and average age of 37. More than half of them prefer to live in villages or small towns, where there is a need for public sector workers - teachers, doctors, employees of cultural establishments. Lev Kuznetsov complained that smooth operation of receiving immigrants is impeded by a lengthy process of documents preparation by the Federal Migration Service - 60 days. Not everyone who moves to a certain place of work can wait that long without the ability to be legally employed.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin also has complaints about the resettlement program. According to him, the program is in a standby mode, and often does not take into account the needs of the Russian economy in very specific specialties. Six months ago, the first flight of the Il-476 required that Ulyanovsk aircraft factory obtained engineers and designers of the highest level from the Tashkent Aircraft Manufacturing Association Ilyushin. Then, the administrative resources of the Deputy Prime Minister and manual operations enabled quick decisions on citizenship and relocation of each specialist and professional to Ulyanovsk, and the new liner was put into operation in the planned time frame.
Meanwhile, large-scale projects of national defense and the revival of the space industry, including an ambitious plan to build a new cosmodrome in the Far East, will inevitably require highly skilled workers and engineers, including Russians living abroad. Obviously, the relevant sections of the program must be quickly adjusted to accommodate this need.
Of course, such measures for the resettlement of the Russians to the historic homeland were badly needed in the early 1990's, when 25 million people, mostly Russians, were suddenly left without shelter and protection of the state. But even now millions of Russians are able to solve many of the problems of the Russian economy, and the fact that the government considers it an issue of paramount importance indicates the formation of a long-awaited national policy priorities.