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RIA Novosti

Russia

Foreign traders banned from Russian retail markets in two days

18:57 30/03/2007
MOSCOW, March 30 (RIA Novosti) - Foreigners trading at Russian retail markets must leave in two days, when a law barring them from their work places comes into effect April 1.

Designed to bring order to the sector and curb a wave of ethnically motivated crimes in the country, the move is a follow-up to January 15, when the number of foreigners allowed to work in outdoor clothes and food markets was reduced to 40% of the total workforce.

The Federal Migration Service said mass inspections will begin throughout Russia April 2.

According to the VTsIOM pollster, 27% of respondents have noticed a price hike at food and clothes markets, and 21% have complained of a shortage of various goods.

However, authorities said the price rise was due to a seasonal trend, and have denied any shortages.

Maxim Topilin, head of the Federal Service for Employment and Labor Relations, said wages were growing in the retail market sector.

"This is the result of our measures to bar illegal immigrants from the markets. For instance, wages doubled in Novosibirsk [West Siberia]," the official said.

Some experts said the measures are discriminatory. They noted that they could affect relations with members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a union of 12 ex-Soviet republics that provide Russia with most of its foreign labor force, and could prompt more race-hate attacks.

The Federal Migration Service said last year that over 20 million people come to Russia every year as part of a post-Soviet "migration boom," and that half of those are in the country illegally.

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