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October 2014, Volume 21, Number 4

Sweden, Russia

Sweden. Some 54,000 foreigners applied for asylum in 2013, and 80,000 are expected to apply in 2014. Two-thirds of Swedes say they support the government's migration policies, but half want to see the number of refugees reduced.

Swedes on September 14, 2014 replaced the right-leaning coalition government of PM Fredrik Reinfeldt, who asked Swedes to "open their hearts" to the asylum seekers entering the country, and gave the left-leaning Social Democrats a plurality with 31 percent of the vote. Reinfeldt, who said that the cost of welcoming refugees prevented increases in government spending in other areas, resigned as leader of the Moderate Party after receiving only 23 percent of the vote.

The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party, which said that Reinfeldt gave Swedes "the choice is between prosperity and mass immigration," won 13 percent of the vote and 49 seats in the 349 seat Parliament. Sweden is likely to be governed by a minority Social Democrat-Green coalition government with a total of 138 seats.

Sweden and other Nordic countries are known for their tolerance and openness to immigrants. However, in Norway the Progress Party is part of a coalition government, and one Progress Party member and government official boasted of reducing "the flow of beggars from outside Norway." In Denmark, the People's Party kept a minority coalition in power between 2000 and 2010, and won significant changes to immigration policy that reduced inflows.

Russia. Russia has 10 to 15 million migrant workers, and they generate five to 10 percent of GDP. Most of the migrants earn $300 to $600 a month in Moscow.

Most of the migrants are from ex-USSR member states, especially the so-called "stans." Remittances are almost half of the GDP of Tajikistan, making Tajikistan the country most dependent on remittances.

The process of obtaining a guest worker permit in Russia is difficult, helping to explain why the Federal Migration Service estimates three million unauthorized migrants. CIS nationals should pay 2,000 rubles ($60) for a work permit, but most pay $600 to $700 because of the need for intermediaries and bribes.

Uzbekistan. Prime Minister Mirzieev visited Fergana in June 2014 and seemed surprised that many working-age men were in Russia. About 10 percent of the 500,000 residents of Samarkand, the country's third largest city in a province known for mining and cotton production, are abroad.

Mirzieev urged local officials to pressure the families of migrants to return to Uzbekistan in order to specify targets and goals for returnees. Some local officials threatened to fine the families of migrants if husbands and wives do not return.