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October 1999, Volume 6, Number 10

Russia, Eastern Europe

Russia. The State Statistics Committee reported that 5.5 million persons moved to Russia from the other ex-USSR states and that 1.8 million people emigrated from Russia over the past seven years. There are 962,000 "forced migrants" and 106,000 refugees in Russia. The committee estimated that there are 700,000 unauthorized foreigners in Russia, half in Moscow.

Russia has 147 million residents. The Russian population is shrinking as deaths exceed births by 700,000 a year.

Several apartment buildings were blown up in September 1999 in Moscow, which prompted police to check the documents of persons from the Chechnya-Caucasus area. Police told 15,000 of the 74,000 people inspected that they had to leave the city because they did not have the proper documents.

Persons from the Caucasus typically have darker skins than the Russians of Moscow, prompting some demonstrations in which there were calls to "Kill the Blacks" or to remove them from Moscow. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov announced that all visitors would have to re-register within the next three days or face removal from the city and that Russians arriving from the Caucasus would have their documents checked.

The Russian Constitution guarantees free mobility, but Mayor Luzhkov has maintained a registration system similar to the old Soviet system that required residents to have a permit to live in the city.

Hungary. The Hungarian government announced that during a sweep to find foreigners who are working illegally during the fall agricultural season, 80 of 345 people checked were found to be in Hungary illegally and were detained.

The strength of the Hungarian economy is reportedly attracting ethnic Hungarians from abroad. The Hungarian prime minister says that he would prefer to not have ethnic Hungarians settle permanently in Hungary, but welcomes some of them on a temporary basis as guest workers: "Our aim is to ensure that all Hungarians should be able to prosper where they are born, where they belong through their culture, ancestors, language and origin. Hungary wants ethnic Hungarians as temporary labor not as immigrants."

Many Austrians fear that there will be a wave of Hungarian migrants to Austria after Hungary joins the EU and Hungarians have freedom of movement rights. However, Hungary's foreign minister, Janos Martonyi, counters that, by the time Hungarians have full freedom of movement rights 10 to 15 years after EU entry, Hungary will be an importer of labor.

Czech Republic. Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the National Front, has accepted the invitation of the ultra right-Republican party leader, Miroslav Sladek, to visit the Czech Republic in October. According to Sladek, the meeting will "combine the forces of all those championing the shared and lofty ideals of pure patriotism at a time of concerted political, economic and power aggression of supranational forces on Europe."

The Republican party leader said that the National Front has several policies in common with the Republicans, including reducing unemployment by enforcing immigration laws strictly. The Republican party opposes Czech entry into the EU.

The Czech Interior Ministry reported that 220,187 foreigners received residence permits in 1998, including 52,684 Ukrainians; 49,621 Slovaks; 22,875 Vietnamese; 22,166 Poles; and 10,029 Russians. The number of illegal migrants was put at 44,672 in 1998.

Poland. As minorities start to assert their rights, Poland is taking its first tentative steps toward adapting to the country's increased diversity. A law on foreigners was amended to regulate the status of refugee centers and to secure the right of asylum seekers to an interpreter and to appeal decisions. There are currently an estimated 2,000 Africans and 40,000 Asians living in the country. There are some reports of racially motivated crimes.

Beta Pasek, "Poland Facing Racal Diversity," AP, September 28, 1999. "Campaign Launched Against Illegal Employment, Immigration," BBC Radio, September 9, 1999.