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July 1998, Volume 5, Number 7

Russia, Eastern Europe

Non-Russian workers in Moscow are reportedly being extorted by police. Some illegal migrant workers keep $50 to $100 in their pockets to be given to police as bribes if they have the bad luck to be arrested falsely and charged with being drunk or disorderly. Even though Russian courts have held the Russian permit system to be unconstitutional, police stop those who look "foreign" on the street and demand to see their residence permits. Russians without permits pay fines that average $8.

There are estimated to be one million foreign workers in and around Moscow, many from Ukraine, Moldova and other parts of the former Soviet Union, and they reportedly earn $100 to $300 a month in construction. Much of the hiring is done at train stations. There are also Turkish and other foreign workers in Moscow; Turkish workers are refurbishing the Russian Parliament. The unemployment rate in Moscow is 0.7 percent.

Latvia, in a bid to win membership in the EU, eased naturalization requirements for the 650,000 Russians in the country; Russians are one-third of Latvia's residents. In June 1998, the quota on naturalizations was ended and persons born in Latvia after 1991 can automatically become citizens.

Czech border police reported that they had apprehended a record 450 illegal immigrants on the Slovak border so far in 1998. All were headed for Germany.

"Czech Slovakia border illegal immigrants," CTK National News Wire, June 14, 1998. Celestine Bohlen, "Moscow Jobs Beckon, but Let the Migrant Beware," New York Times, June 13, 1998.