Representatives of ethnic communities told a news conference devoted to the recent ethnic clashes in Moscow's Biryulyovo district on Monday that mandatory visas in the foreign passports of citizens of CIS countries who want to enter Russia would only create unnecessary barriers. However, they believe that the introduction of working visas could be useful for migrants.
Itar-Tass quotes Ibragim Khudaiberdiev, the president of the Russian Congress of Uzbeks, saying that the introduction of visas would create a stalemate in relations between the Uzbek and Russian peoples.
"As for labor migrants, a working visa is a must for them," Khudaiberdiev went on to say. He explained that he meant the introduction of visas for labor migrants from republics of the former Soviet Union. A person can obtain this kind of visa if he concludes a contract with a future employer. Khudaiberdiyev also suggested that the Russian Federal Migration Service and the Uzbek authorities coordinate with each other regions in Russia to where labor migrants should go. He warned that such a system should not create obstacles to Uzbek students who want to study at Russian institutions of high learning. Unlimited and uncontrolled migration is a problem for Russian society.
"Russians who reside in major Russian mega cities have the right to preserve their ethnic and cultural identity as a title nation," the leader of the Uzbek Diaspora in Russia said.
"Tomorrow, they can really face a problem of how to save ethnic Russians, how to save the Orthodox faith and how to save Russian culture which has united a great number of nations in the territory of Russia," Khudaiberdiyev went on to say.
He added that South Korea had set a good example of creating an effective model of dealing with labor migrants. Uzbek nationals go to work to South Korea under an inter-state agreement with social guarantees and return back to Uzbekistan after their work contracts expire. Karomat Sharipov, the chairman of the Russia-based Tajik Labor Migrants public movement, agreed that a working visa was a must. In his view, uncontrollable labor migration was diluting Tajikistan. He believed that migration should be organized and that great role should be assigned to public organizations of Diasporas in Russia.
"We should train them (labor migrants) in Tajikistan; we should send them to work and we should guarantee that they return home," Sharipov emphasized.
He said that many young Tajiks did not want to return home for fear of being drafted into the army. "Six hundred thousand draftees aged 17-27 are staying in the territory of Russia, waiting for their conscription time to expire," Sharipov said. He called on the Tajik authorities to declare amnesty for all Tajik young men of conscription age.
"The introduction of visa relations with adjacent countries is unlikely," Federal Migration Service head Konstantin Romodanovsky said in an interview with Kommersant. "In this case integration, actually of any kind, is advantageous for us — both for the economy and for simple citizens."
In another interview published Monday, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin called for a visa regime to restrict the current influx of immigrants from the former Soviet republics. Under current law, people from the Commonwealth of Independent states are legally allowed to stay in Russia for 90 days without a visa.
The problem is not immigration itself, Romodanovsky said, but that "those who are coming to Russia are by no means the ones we need."
In an attempt to change the face of immigration to Russia, the FMS is currently introducing both incentive and punitive measures.
As of 2014, students will find it easier to receive work permits, with Russian employers no longer required to receive special permission in order to hire them, Romodanovsky said.
However, a law recently approved by the State Duma bans entrance to Russia for those who have already violated immigration laws.
In the past four years, "the total entrance of immigrants to the Russian Federation increased by 37 percent and we had to react somehow," Romodanovsky said.
Asked where the majority of immigrants to Russia originate, Romodanovsky named Ukrainians as those who most frequently cross the border, while the greatest number of people who illegally stay for more than 90 days are from Uzbekistan.
"Oddly enough, our most highly developed relationship is with Tajikistan," Romodanovsky said, explaining that Tajikistan has made the greatest number of agreements with Russia on immigration and been most persistent in their enforcement.
"Travels will remain visa-free, if we are speaking of CIS citizens, but the introduction of the sticker will become one more step to restore order. To obtain a sticker the foreigner will have to submit a minimal package of documents to the FMS," Romodanovsky said.
In April 2013, FMS Deputy Head Anatoly Fomenko announced that the flow of migrants has grown compared to previous years. He said that at the time there were some 10.5 million foreign citizens in Russia - 2.5 million of them citizens of Uzbekistan, 1.1 million citizens of Tajikistan, over 500,000 citizens of Kyrgyzstan, 1.3 million citizens of Ukraine and over 500,000 citizens of Moldova