I  N  T  E  R  E  T  H  N  I  C
News archive of Center for Interethnic Cooperation
Back to the archive of CIC

Migrants in the law

Russia�s population has consistently declined over the past 16 years. Thus, Russia�s demographic crisis, of which Vladimir Putin has persistently spoken during the past four years, is not news for demographers and economists. Moreover, it is actually necessary to search for the roots of the present crisis as beginning 60 years ago when, contrary to all demographic laws in Russia, life expectancy began to decrease. Also it is necessary to realize that it is impossible to suddenly overcome such negative tendencies, which has formed over decades. Neither growth of birth rate, nor growth of life expectancy can be instantly solved by new social programs. Today's demographic challenges should be connected not only to the material stimulation of birth rate as it is formulated in the new demographic program. The state must solve the complex problems of the labor market, fine-tuning of labor legislation, stimulation of incomplete and non-standard forms of employment of women, investments into the market of social services, assistance to development concerning the markets of services of nurses new to Russia and tutors. Finally, it is necessary to find a solution to the difficult challenge of state migratory policy.

Unfortunately, Russia today does not have clear policy concerning migrants. The demographic statistics is in a pitiable condition and fixes on an insignificant share of migratory processes. We wander in darkness and we do not see a real picture of migratory processes. And the disorder in statistical data is really shocking. For example, estimations of number of migrants from China fluctuates from 400 thousand up to 10 million people! If the last figure were real, it is the equivalent to a recognition on the part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs that territories of our country do not exist.

Today Russia has two problems: geopolitically - to raise its population, and economically - to fill an approaching deficiency of manpower. And they are not the same problem. It is obvious, that last year both xenophobia and migrantophobia gathered force - these are real problems which cannot be ignored. That is why when defining migratory priorities vague formulation are chosen: we welcome migration of our compatriots. Even the term �compatriots� has a certain craftiness - it implies Russians. Theoretically it is possible to estimate the potential of Russian and other Russian ethnic groups abroad: according to sociological data, it is possible that Russia could increase its population by about 3.5 million people. But this is a very modest number that would not enable us to solve either the first or second problems.

However, in order to start the process of solving these problems, clear certain rules need to be set up. Any right has a right to protectionist policy. If few legislate migratory flows, then it is right to define which and how many migrants we want, what activities they can do, and how they can influence the formation foreign community in the Russian Federation. But if we continue down the path of fighting with our migrants, then we will neither solve the problem of the demographic development of the country nor the problem of protecting the countries boarders from illegal migrants. Today, instead of having a clearly formulated immigration policy, we have a half-open door policy into Russia, through which enter not those whom we choose, not those whom we wish to accept, but those who know how to get in. And this state of affairs only worsens the negative opinion people have about migrants in our society.

In China there are two opinions on migration. �We go out there� and �We invite you to return.� Why then, do our compatriots who �go out there� not return to us? Indeed, these are some of the most highly educated people in our society and our potential migratory resource. These people, having received an education and professional experience abroad could help fill the deficit in the Russian labor market both in terms of quantity and quality. Today Russia has a choice. It is possible to create a strategy to achieve high labor productivity during a period of moderately reduced population - and there are all the necessary tools needed to do this without unnecessary drama. But serious structural reforms are necessary to make this happen. The alternative is to remain a raw-material reliant country with a high portion of the population in hard and low-paid labor. But even with a growing population, we will not solve the economic or geopolitical problems. Everyone who is talking about a demographic crisis needs to know that we are not talking about a problem of quantity but of quality.

Author: Tatiana Melyeva

Source: Moscow News

Issued by: Moscow Bureau of Human Rights

� 1993-2003

If you have some interesting information about interethnic
situation in your region or about activity
of your organisation, we would be glad to
post it on our website
[email protected]