Russia has been accepting a huge number of refugees from Ukraine recently. There are incidents, though, when refugees put forward absolutely unacceptable demands. For example, some want to have an apartment provided to them for free, others want an easy and well-paid job. ... It is hard to imagine that the people, who escaped from war, can behave like that being guests in a foreign country. Pravda.Ru interviewed the head of the Department of Population of the Economics Department of the Moscow State University, Doctor of Economics, Professor Vladimir Iontsev on the situation.
"Excessive demands and disgraceful behavior on the part of refugees evoke protest among Russians. Does the government's program for refugees provoke public discontent? How should one react to this?"
"I think that our residents are quite right, because thousands of our citizens do not have their own housing. Naturally, their outrage is justifiable, and it is difficult to call people refugees until they are given the refugee status. Many of those, who cross the border towards Russia, escaping from war, indeed, immediately, by default, are considered refugees. But officially, they become refugees after relevant services, in this case the Federal Migration Service of Russia, give them a refugee status.
"This is not an instantaneous procedure. At first, people are checked, as anything is possible. You never know what kind of people some may be. The situation that has been developing in Ukraine is of course terrible. I just do not understand why the international community does not react to that. The Russian government pays little attention to the problem too. The position of the Russian government on the Ukrainian crisis is not exactly clear. Russia had a clear position in relation to the Crimea and Sevastopol. As for the situation in eastern Ukraine, where fights have been going on for a long time, the Russian government does not have a clear position. The slowness of our authorities, almost incomprehensible inaction, does not improve the situation, but generate uncertainty for all. All this creates, in my opinion, a tense atmosphere.
"The requirements that refugees set forth are, of course, completely unfounded. No refugee in any country in the world has a right to set forth any claims to the state in which they found themselves. Even when they are granted refugee status, they receive it out of humanitarian grounds of this particular state, where they are staying. This is not a matter of responsibility. Refugees are a category of people, who, to put it mildly, simply can count on humanitarian aid from the state, which accepted them, rather than put forward some demands. They already use the support from another state, which does not owe them anything. The state simply shows its goodwill to refugees. Moreover, the resources provided were created by citizens of the country that accepted the refugees and could be used for their needs."
"How is it possible to distinguish between refugees from crooks?"
"Of course, such cases may occur. But it seems to me that it is easier to check citizens of Ukraine. We have similar laws and traditions. Checking supporting documents usually presents no difficulty. I know this problem as I have long been engaged in migration, and refugees are migration, albeit forced migration. People who want to officially become refugees must go through necessary procedures. There are special laws on refugees in our country and throughout the world.
"At first, citizens receive a temporary status, and then officials consider whether to grant refugee status or not. One needs relevant documents. Refugees can be provided with temporary accommodation in dormitories and other possible places with minimal amenities. During the 1990s, Moscow faced an influx of refugees from Azerbaijan of Armenian nationality. They were temporarily housed in hostels, some of them received apartments in old buildings afterwards. Then, many of them left to the United States of America."
"Can refugees seek recognition of their rights? Can they address to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg?"
"Are their rights violated in Russia? The citizens of Ukraine can file complaints against Kiev. The current Ukrainian authorities orchestrated real genocide against their own people! It boggles the mind. Russia tries to help them, but they continue to exterminate their people."
"Does Russia have any obligations to refugees?"
"If a person receives refugee status, they should be provided with basic accommodation. This is basic accommodation, one needs to emphasize that. Comfortable accommodation, which many Russians still do not have, is out of the question. This is common international practice. In America, refugees, once they obtain an official status, do not receive comfortable cottages either. Everyone, who wants to work, will be able to maintain themselves in our country."
Prepared by Yuri Kondratyev
Read the original in Russian