MOSCOW, August 10 (RIA Novosti)
Medvedev Cracks Down on Officials Failing to Curb Illegal Immigration
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has called for protecting the Far East from the excessive expansion of the Chinese population there at a government meeting, at which he approved a new migration policy. It stipulates an inflow of three million by 2025.
“More than eight million foreign citizens came to Russia in the first six months of 2012 alone,” he said, adding that the current 10 million immigrants is comparable with the population of a city like Moscow.
He admitted the actual number of immigrants may be ten times the official estimate, and added that immigration has gotten out of control.
He also recognized that Russia has failed “to create a civilized and balanced labor market.” The government’s hope of attracting a qualified workforce from abroad was never realized. Qualified workers are in fact leaving Russia. Instead we get “guest workers with low qualifications. They barely speak Russian and very often know nothing about our laws and culture.”
Medvedev called for preventing immigrants from forming enclaves and only allowing them to settle in places where there is no demand from Russians. It is also important that immigrants do not take jobs from Russians. Germany applies an even harsher rule: a foreigner may be employed only until a German with relevant qualifications decides to take this job.
In Russia, immigrants account for the 7-8 percent of the population, which is close to the unemployment rate among the employable population. In rural areas, it is quite common to find local men seeking a job, while a Tajik team is repairing a local road. This does not only suggest that Russians are too lazy. Employers are simply trying to cut back on their payrolls.
Medvedev called for severe punishment, up to legal prosecution, for violating migration laws.
Head of the Federal Migration Service Konstantin Romodanovsky, who sponsored the new policy, also proposed amending the Criminal Code to increase punishment for organizing illegal immigration to 10 years behind bars, qualifying as a medium or grave crime.
He also proposed banning foreign nationals deported from Russia from their next entry for as long as ten years. If they return earlier, they would face a five-year sentence. The Criminal Code does not have this requirement at this stage.
However, immigrants know how to bypass laws. In Tajikistan, it's possible to procure a new passport under a different name for 300 rubles (around $10) and fly back to Moscow the next month.
The Migration Service also plans to introduce a nationwide information system to keep records of the population in 2013, but Romodanovsky gave no details of this plan.
The policy also includes proficiency exams for immigrants in the Russian language, history and law. However, the requirement may only apply to “specific categories” of foreign workers.
S-300 Claim Backfires: Russia Willing to Drop Support
Iran’s claim against Russia for its refusal to supply S-300 surface-to-air missiles could lead to serious political consequences, according to Kommersant’s sources. The Russian authorities have decided that if Tehran fails to withdraw its lawsuit, Moscow will strip it of international support and get tough on the nuclear issue. Also, statements by the Iranian authorities that Iran’s claim against Russia is just $900 million (not $4 billion) are untrue.
After Iran’s $4 billion lawsuit against Russia, a Russian government source angrily responded: “We support them and take a constructive position in talks on nuclear issue, and they repay us like this.” The source described the claim as unsavory and the Iranians as ungrateful. Now, according to a source at the presidential executive office, Moscow has toughened its stance: the issue is becoming political rather than legal.
“We have tried to express to Iran that lawsuits do not contribute to our relationship, but we receive no response,” the source said. This will force Russia to take countermeasures – Moscow is prepared to walk away from its support on the nuclear issue. “Before the next meeting of the Group of Six, we will try to express our position to them once more through another government delegation to Tehran. But if they refuse again, Iran will have to negotiate its nuclear position on the international stage alone,” the Kremlin official warned.
Meanwhile, Iran badly needs Russian support. Last week EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said the next stage in negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program would be held at the end of August. That meeting will be crucial for the future dialogue in the six-nation group format.
The previous meeting brought no results: a source close to the American delegation said the U.S. saw no sense in continuing to search for a diplomatic solution and insisted on sanctions. Moscow has always opposed sanctions and favored negotiations with Iran.
Iran seems to understand that and is trying to soften the negative impact of its lawsuit. Iran’s ambassador in Russia, Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi, told Izvestia that Tehran is demanding $900 million from Moscow, not $4 billion, and that $3 billion is a penalty. The Geneva Arbitration Court, he said, “increased the amount without Iran’s knowledge and contrary to its wishes.”
The Geneva Court would not comment on that yesterday. But lawyers familiar with the process say it is impossible for an arbitration court to alter the size of a claim arbitrarily. In expert opinion, the claim amount could be increased if Iran demanded compensation for damages to its business reputation or for moral harm.
The massive increase in the claim could not have been made without Iran’s knowledge. Nevertheless Moscow is not abandoning all hope. “Negotiations with Iran are proceeding with difficulty, but we still expect to reach an agreement amicably and out of court,” a Kremlin source told Kommersant.
Russia Has Three Times as Many Policemen Per Capita as the U.S.
After a 20 percent Interior Ministry personnel cut, Russia still has 7.7 policemen per 1,000 people, which is far more than in other countries, let alone in the former Soviet Union, with 2.1 per 1,000.
So what is the right proportion of policemen in a country? The Interior Ministry is currently researching this.
“If all policemen get their weekends, vacations and days off for extra hours, the Russian police will need even more personnel,” said Mikhail Makov, chief expert at the ministry’s personnel department. “In any case Russia is bound to have more police than other countries due to its vast territory.”
In Italy, which is closest to Russia in the ratio of police to citizens, one policeman is responsible for 1.1 sq km, which he can easily patrol on foot. A Russian policeman has to cover 15 sq km. In the Soviet Union, whose territory was greater than modern Russia's, one policeman had to maintain order on 35 sq km.
“The Soviet Union had a whole totalitarian regime to maintain order, including the Communist Party committees, trade union committees and volunteer squads,” Makov said. “The expanded police staff is the price we pay for our new freedom.”
Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev noted that the recent reform damaged the accessibility of the police, especially in rural areas, where police departments were reduced or closed. Mikhail Pashkin, who heads a Moscow police trade union, is now reviewing the personnel issue as part of a working group on further Interior Ministry reform.
“You can't compare those!” he said when shown the respective figures for Russia and the Soviet Union. “In the Soviet era, there were one or two crimes a month in Moscow. Now there is a war.”
In America, peaceful civilians are allowed to bear arms. Also, in most western countries, people immediately report their friends and neighbors for drunk driving. This makes the police’s work easier, and their number is smaller, he added.
“We should base it on the number of crimes,” he said. “We have an estimated 25 million unreported crimes. Also, a police patrol may get two calls per day in one Moscow district, and 20 in another. Naturally the second one requires more personnel.”
Makov believes that the number of policemen may be reduced by changing the whole system of criminal investigation.
“In the U.S., they have detectives who do all the work, while in Russia there are ‘operations officers,’ who arrive on site, interrogate eyewitnesses and report to the investigator who, in turn, reports to the prosecution authority and issues order to the operations officer. If we avoid redundancies, both the operations and investigations corps could be reduced. We have a cumbersome bureaucratic system,” he said.
“The only way is to redistribute personnel,” Pashkin argued. “All those generals, secretaries and aides sitting in Moscow offices need to be sent out in the field to get a feel for ‘the ground’, and the personnel numbers will optimize themselves.”
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.