Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Moscow Needs Migrants But Fears of Terrorists among Gastarbeiters

Posted by Info on 07/11/2010

Moscow is seeking to impose tighter control over labor migration from CIS countries in general and Tajikistan in particular not only to ensure that Russian laws are obeyed but also to prevent the arrival of Jihadi terrorists within that flow who could form “a fifth column” inside the Russian Federation.

On the one hand, the Russian economy needs immigrant labor given the country’s declining population. Moreover, Moscow wants to maintain good relations with and hence influence in Muslim countries, both those from which the migrants come and others further afield.

And on the other, there appear to be some in the Russian capital who are prepared to play up such ethnic tensions not only to distract attention of social class problems but also out of the belief that the anti-immigrant sentiment now sweeping through Western Europe provides Russia with the perfect occasion to crack down on immigrants itself.

In recent weeks, Russian courts have ordered the disbanding of the organization of Tajik immigrant workers in the Russian Federation, the number of clashes between migrants and Russians appear to have increased, and anti-immigrant groups like the Movement Against Illegal Immigraiton (DPNI) have stepped up their activities.

Beyond any doubt, Moscow as have governments elsewhere will try to find a middle course, cracking down on illegal immigrants and saying that it will defend legal ones. But that position is likely to prove increasingly difficult to sustain given generalized fears among Russians that Gastarbeiters as a group are the sources of terrorism and drugs.


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