Immigrants in Russia

A number of immigrants and people lacking citizenship on the Russian territory is getting harder to calculate.

 Approximately, there are five to six million immigrants in the country, 500 of which are legally employed. Last Thursday, head of Federal Immigration Services Alexander Chekalkin has announced that information regarding immigrants entering and existing the country will now be monitored by newly designed system and stored in a special database. Expert from the Institute of political and military analysis Sergey Markedonov has commented in his interview to NewsInfo on the effectiveness of such precautions for Russia’s immigration services.

NewsInfo: First of all, what do you expect to reveal once all the immigrants on the Russian territory are being accounted for?

Sergey Markedonov: Obviously, we will discover that majority of them live here illegally. First thing that comes to mind is that all of them need to be deported immediately. In general, our society tends to have rather negative attitude towards issues concerning migration. This is absolutely wrong! It is important to administer strict guidelines in regards to such matters. The country should refrain from shifting from one extreme to another: either allowing anybody to enter the country, or asking everybody to leave.   

NewsInfo: What are the main criteria of such politics and is it being administered today?

Sergey Markedonov: For starters, it is of utmost importance to refrain from stereotypes. All information has to be truthful and objective. If we manage to create a unified database, we will be able to conduct the first screening of all the immigrants according to their employment, illegal stay etc. A lot of facts will be revealed. It is not a secret that Russia currently suffers from high deficit of citizens capable of working and possesses vast territories of land. Such condition indicates that the country is in serious need of immigrants. Each region has certain peculiarities however. Some regions lack people. Others, on the contrary, suffer from people overflow.

One of the government's main objectives should be even distribution of people. In places where immigrants are somehow hindering the indigenous population, they should be deported. In those places, where there is plenty of land and not enough hands to cultivate it, the government should ease the process of legalizing people's work there.

One should not forget that majority of immigrants in the country represent internal immigrants from former republics. Today, for instance, young men from overly populated Dagestan are migrating countrywide. Once again, there is nothing negative about this. The process should simply be controlled.

NewsInfo: What's your take on latest Putin's initiatives regarding drafting of Russian citizens as well as the overall simplification of the process of obtaining Russian citizenship?

Sergey Markedonov: Granting Russian citizenship for military services is definitely correct politics. A foreigner who served in Chechnya as a contractor, for instance, is righteously entitled to be Russian citizen. Also, other institutions aside from the army should be created in order to aid newcomers in assimilating to the Russian language and culture.

The process of citizenship acquisition should in now way be a formal procedure. Strict guidelines should be developed.      

NewsInfo: Well, this could probably be applied to those immigrants from countries of former USSR. But how are you going to deal with Chinese people in the Far East?

Sergey Markedonov: We should not repeat those mistakes of Americans when dealing with such matters. They allowed millions of foreign speaking immigrants to live by the Mexican border. Surprisingly, they all live as a secluded community, expressing negative attitudes towards entire America. For Russia, this migration from China can turn out to be a blessing, or it might not. It all depends on the government’s ability to control the population flow. We should not allow the Chinese to settle along the border line. They should be able to get employed in the country. Then, such labor-related immigration will be of interest to Russia. 

Vladimir Golishev

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov