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June 1999, Volume 6, Number 6

Russia, Eastern Europe

Russia has 147 million residents, and their number is shrinking as deaths exceed births by 700,000 a year. Life expectancy was 68 in 1997, compared to 73 in Mexico and 78 in the US.

Ukraine/Russia. Heads of the border guards in the Sumy Region of the Ukrainian and the Russian regions of Bryansk and Kursk met on May 11 to discuss how to halt illegal immigration in the region. During 1998, 53 percent of the illegals apprehended in the Ukraine were detained in the Sumy region. Most of those detained were from Southeast Asia.

About 300,000 Chinese were in the Russian Far East in 1999. If migration continues at the current rate, Russia's Chinese population could near 10 million by 2050, making the Chinese the largest ethnic group in Russia after Russians. The nine regions of the Russian Far East have a population of 7.4 million, while the three Chinese provinces just across the border are home to 300 million.

Chinese immigrants are traders as well as hard workers. One Russian said: "Why can't the Russians work like the Chinese?" Many Chinese farm workers in Russia live 10 to a room and remit much of their savings to families in China.

Czech Republic. The Czech Interior Ministry reports that 220,187 foreigners received residence permits in 1998. The foreigners included 52,684 Ukrainians; 49,621 Slovaks; 22,875 Vietnamese; 22,166 Poles; and 10,029 Russians. The number of illegal migrants was 44,672 in 1998, which is the highest figure since 1993, according to the Czech Interior Ministry. Most illegal migrants came from Yugoslavia, 16,052; Afghanistan, 4,959; Romania, 4,372; Macedonia, 1,741; Bulgaria, 1,691; and Iraq, 1,587.

"Ukrainian, Russian Border Officials Discuss Illegal Immigration," Unian News Agency, May 11, 1999. "220,187 Foreigners Hold Czech Residence Permit in 1998," CTK, May 10, 1999. Neela Banerjee, "Flow of Chinese migrants seeking jobs in Russia's Far East may ultimately hit Russia's ethnic balance," Christian Science Monitor, April 30, 1999.