Skip to navigation
Skip to main content
July 2012 Volume 19 Number 3
Newly re-installed President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in May 2012 requiring migrant workers to pass a Russian language test to receive work permits. By the end of 2012, Putin promised a new law that increases penalties on unauthorized migrants and their employers. Putin said that only 40 percent of the 10 million foreigners in Russia had work permits.<< back
The Federal Migration Service reported the arrest of 2,600 unauthorized foreigners in Moscow in May 2012, signaling stepped-up enforcement. Most of those arrested worked in meat-processing plants, restaurants, garment factories and construction sites and were from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan.
The FMS says that 14 million foreigners enter Russia each year, including three-fourths who are citizens of former Soviet states. The FMS says that 9.5 million foreigners live in Russia, including 1.3 million who are working legally. Many of the others from ex-USSR states come to visit but remain and work illegally. Foreigners in Russia are supposed to register, and FMS reported that 260,000 foreign nationals registered at 6,000 physical addresses in 2011 ? an average of 43 people per address.
The OECD estimated that 960,000 temporary foreign workers were employed Russia legally in 2010, and that two to three times more worked illegally. Foreign workers were estimated to be seven percent of the 75-million strong Russian labor force, and two-thirds of the foreign workers were unauthorized. Over 75 percent of the migrants in Russia are employed in agriculture, construction, manufacturing and˙trade.
Russia, after 18 years of negotiations, is set to join the World Trade Organization in July 2012. After its WTO entry, the Russian government will have to reduce import duties and cap farm subsidies at $9 billion a year.
Georgia. The Caucasus countries have experienced significant out-migration in the two decades since independence. The major destination is Russia, followed by the US, Greece, Turkey and Germany. Interviews conducted in Georgia with families who have members abroad found that over half of their relatives were abroad five years or more. Over two-thirds of those abroad had post-secondary education, but few Georgian migrants needed this education to perform their jobs abroad.
Ukraine. The Ukranian Parliament approved a bill in June 2012 allowing local and regional governments to grant official status to Russian and other languages where at least 10 percent of residents speak them. Ukraine's constitution designates Ukrainian as the only state language, provoking protests from those who say that President Yanukovich's Party of Regions, which pushed the bill through Parliament in a surprise maneuver, is aiming to shore up support in the south and east of the country, where Russian is widely spoken.