Soveltavan politiikan asiantuntija
Who is happy in Russia and where, or migration in St. Petersburg and Moscow region
Julkaistu: 30.05.2012

Who is happy in Russia and where, or migration in St. Petersburg and Moscow region

In twos, number!

According to official data, in 2010 the Moscow region occupied the second line in the top list of migrant attractions, where it lags behind the Russian capital but is ahead of St. Petersburg.

Table 1. Migration of population in St. Petersburg and the Moscow region in 2010-2011 (Rosstat)

Moscow Region St. Petersburg
2010 2011 2010 2011
Arrived in total, persons 145,655 231,320 67,127 130,321
Left in total, persons 80,902 116,825 30,330 71,689
Migration increase, persons 64,753 114,495 36,797 58,632
Foreign citizens arrived, persons 15,834 24,847 4,663 13,424
Including from CIS countries, persons 15,427 23,048 3,952 11,109
Foreign citizens left, persons 1,187 1,931 676 851
Migration increase for foreign citizens, persons 14,647 232,430 3,987 12,573

Quantitative composition of migrants with a single citizenship is different for Moscow and St. Petersburg, but emigratory sources remain the same. In both regions they include Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Kyrgyzstan. In the Moscow region, newcomers are mostly from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan. During 2011, citizens of Uzbekistan were the most numerous group coming to St. Petersburg, followed by migrants from Ukraine and Moldova.

The table indicates nearly 77% growth in migrants for the Moscow region in 2011, and 60% for St. Petersburg. However, even these estimates seem doubtful and not only due to illegal immigrants missed by official statistics. Let us remember some facts about establishment of migration registration in Russia.

In 2002, the Government of the Russian Federation issued a decree “On the Central Databank for Registration of Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons Temporary Staying and Temporary or Permanently Residing in the Russian Federation.” The Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), the Federal Border Service (FPS), and the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information (FASPI) were to create a database containing data on persons in question during 2003–2005. But by November 2005, hardware/software complexes for the federal database and regional units were present only in 13 regional branches.

On March 10, 2006, a new decree was signed “On Maintenance and Usage of the Central Database of Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons Permanently Residing in the Russian Federation,” which regulated the creation of a centralised databank under the authority of the Federal Migration Service, the procedure of its maintenance, data access and securing, etc.
Information was to be provided by:

  • Russia’s Ministry of Home Affairs (crimes committed by foreign citizens or in respect of foreign citizens, administrative misdeeds);
  • The Federal Migration Service of Russia (visas, migration cards, permanent residence or habitation registration, arriving/leaving hotels, administrative misdeeds, etc.). The Federal Migration Service is also responsible for maintaining the central databank;
  • Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (formal invitations for foreign citizens entering Russia and visas);
  • The Federal Security Service (foreign citizens crossing the state border of Russia).

  • The order says about creating a databank (not about transferring it under the authority of the Federal Migration Service), so one could suggest that the process has not been fully completed yet.

    At the same time, the State Integrated System of Migration Data (Gosudarstvennaya Informatsionnaya Systema Migratsionnogo Ucheta, GISMU) was under development starting from 2004. The inter-departmental automated system is based on the centralised databank of registered foreign nationals. The Federal Taxation Service was added to the list of data providers along with other state agencies with legislative access to needed data. Like the databank, the system is operated by the Federal Migration Service.

    By the end of 2007, elaboration of a hardware/software complex for GISMU was officially completed: 81 units started functioning in their regular mode. During the next three years the system was planned to be developed further. But nothing has changed. In 2011, it was the same federal hardware/software complex with 81 regional satellites.

    More than 3500 branches turned into uncoordinated components lacking network communications with regional and federal system units. In July 2011, the management of the Federal Migration Service admitted that present computing capacities were not enough for arranging efficient workflow for the state information system. Optimisation was offered through changing the storage structure. But again, the plan required additional areas, equipment and funds.

    In addition to the lack of an integrated database, more problems for registration process are created by migrants and foreign citizens reluctant to register officially. Signed in 2006, the federal law “On Migration Registration of Foreign Citizens and Stateless Person in the Russian Federation” simplified registration procedures for the majority of foreign citizens adding to the data flow. In 2007, the law was amended together with a number of other statutory and legal acts. Registration procedures became easier and penalties tougher for unnotifying migration and fiscal bodies.

    The federal law “On Amendments to the Federal Law “On Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation” and Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation” from May 19, 2010—better known as The Patent Law—became the second statutory act encouraging migrants to register officially. Foreign citizens were granted the right for “patents”, or permissions to work for individual persons, which was considered illegal earlier. In spite of existing problems, positive legislative dynamics for promoting registration of migrants is currently present.

    According to Oleg Molodievsky, head of the Department of the Federal Migration Service in the Moscow region, at present the region houses nearly 1 million of migrants including 300 thousand of illegals. Average estimates for migrants in St. Petersburg give the figure twice as less.

    Tickets for work

    Oleg Molodievsky insists that 98% of migrants are coming to make a living. We shall not discuss extremely varied public opinions concerning jobs for foreigners here. But the fact is the present system of quotas does not suit both sides.

    Table 2. Work ticket quotas for foreign citizens (according to the Ministry of Health Care and Social Development)

    Moscow region St. Petersburg
    Years Year beginning Year end Year beginning Year end
    2008 104,955 247,662 130,814 236,534
    2009 116,351 116,351 213,863 209,318
    2010 85,600 108,529 210,066 189,433
    2011 108,090 122,503 197,253 177,929

    The Committee on Labour and Employment states that the Moscow region demands 3–4 times more foreign workers than the government quota offers. The number of issued requests from regional employers indicates that clearly. At the same time, the quota problem is not so burning for St. Petersburg: the number of foreign employees has not reached the permitted level yet. The table shows that the number of quotas dropped sharply during 2008-2011. Despite quotas shortage, the number of legal permissions for the Moscow region declined two times during that period.

    Many companies are ready to employ migrants as their labour is several times cheaper compared with native residents. Due to the present system of quotas and low legal competence, many migrants choose illegal jobs. In that case, they become fully dependent on honesty of their employer when it comes to their payroll payments.

    Certain measures are taken, which are meant to promote Russian citizens for vacant jobs. Issued in March 2012 by the Committee for Labour and Employment in the Moscow region, the decree “On measures for Replacing Jobs for Foreign Citizens by Russian Citizens” is planned to increase the efficiency of further steps made in this direction.

    The media is aware of places they call “Slave Markets”, where migrants come to search for work. In the Moscow region, one of “markets” is in the crossing of Yaroslavl highway and Moscow ring road, in Perlovka district of Mytishchi. According to the media, St. Petersburg has got its street-based labour exchanges, too. Unlike the Moscow region, repairs services are offered here not by migrants but by their “crew chiefs,” while “the crew” is waiting for their new job in some shed known only to a limited number of people. These sheds are not so well known as “Yaroslavka.”

    It is worth noting that in St. Petersburg a “SMS labour exchange” project was launched. The web site was aimed at selecting workers from Russia and CIS countries for construction, repair and other jobs popular among migrants. As newcomers do not usually have access to the Internet but everyone has got a mobile phone, SMS format was chosen. However, many people (including employers and dispersions) are not so quick to trust the resource as they prefer to deal with people they know personally or through recommendations. A similar project initiated by St. Petersburg Union of Business Owners was frozen several years ago as job placement services turned out to be undemanded by migrants.

    Eden huts?

    When discussing problems associated with foreign migrants, dishonest employers and preconceived opinion of Russians are usually mentioned. At the same time, every newcomer faces housing issues first.

    Reports on “stretch” flats and even “stretch” towns slip out now and again in the media. In the first case, an unthinkable number of tenants are registered in a small flat (for a certain fee, naturally). Cases are described when flats have up to 6 sq. cm (!) per inhabitant. Register process is quick and basically legal, because each of newcomers has got a certain share in the real estate. To hold the spread of “stretch” houses, one is to sue each and every of its inhabitants. This is the address migrants put in their official documents (for example, when taking a credit), but obviously it isn’t the place they choose for living. As a result, the Federal Migration Service and law bodies face great difficulties when trying to hold migrants in their field of vision.

    “Stretch” towns imply mass settlements of migrants, usually in the outskirts. More often that not, a “stretch” town consists of poor houses built from anything available. Such hut towns may accommodate up to several hundred people.

    St. Petersburg has launched a project of apartment houses for migrants. It is meant to make life of migrants more comfortable and monitoring of newcomers easier for local authorities. After reconstruction, old state houses will be offered for tenants, including present hostels.

    End 2011, 26 buildings were suggested for reconstruction and 11 more for major repair. Future apartment houses are projected as 2** hotels with minimal service list. Supposed cost of residence is about 6000 roubles per month. But the rent will be available only with an invitation from an employer and an agreement between the employer and city authorities. Migrants from North West will have preferences and will be offered new rooms first. And while certain experts characterise the project as “a drop in the ocean”, centralised rent policy is expected to give its positive results.

    Your health!

    As it was mentioned above, migrants usually come to Russia in search of a living. In general, they work hard and seldom relax, especially with alcohol. Nevertheless, many foreign employees have serious health issues, tuberculosis and HIV being among the most often cases. The head doctor of the municipal TB dispensary in St. Petersburg says that 30% of active tuberculosis cases are registered among migrants. The Federal Service on Customers’ Rights Protection and Human Well-being Surveillance (Rospotrebnadzor) states that the disease is 4 times more common with migrants compared to Russian citizens. Moreover, newcomers bring new virus strains with them.

    The law “On Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation” gives foreigners 30 days for providing health certificates ensuring lack of infections, HIV, or drug addiction. In case of any infectious disease, the foreigner is to go back to the home country on his or her own or to be deported. But illegal migrants do not care about any examination. Insanitation of their dwellings makes the situation only worse.

    Active efforts to bring down the infection rate are made in St. Petersburg involving local newcomers, too. Generally accepted monitoring of diseases in migrant environment is backed by a number of additional measures, connected mainly with tuberculosis:

  • Health care committee provides free medicines for curing tuberculosis to dispensaries under its charge. Medicines are available for migrants, too.
  • Municipal medical institutions offer basic tuberculous help to foreigners.
  • Foreign women are examined for tuberculosis in maternity hospitals.

  • By immunizing migrants, the Moscow region tries to withstand measles, too.

    Certainly, any foreign migrant has got a bunch of other problems, not connected to economics or welfare. Insufficient command of Russian language, difficulties in adaptation to Russian society are only some of them. The laws of the subjects in question make provisions for such cases, too.

    To a large extent, the position of newcomers in Russia depends on their own behaviour: Do they register? Have they got a job ticket?
    Nevertheless, the facts mentioned above indicate that life of migrants in St. Petersburg is somewhat better than in the Moscow region. Besides, Russia’s Northern capital is implementing the Tolerance programme, aimed at supporting “tolerant environment based on multicultural policy and values of multiethnic Russian society, observance of human rights and freedoms, maintenance of interethnic peace and concord.” After the programme for 2006–2010 was over, a new Tolerance programme for 2011–2015 has been approved.

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