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There are 9-M foreigners in Russia — official

MOSCOW, Oct. 27 — There are some nine million foreigners in Russia at present, mostly labor migrants from former Soviet republics, director of the department of international cooperation of the Russian Red Cross (RKK) public charity organization Sergei Kobets said citing the information supplied by the Federal Migration Service.

"According to the FMS' latest data, there are some nine million foreign citizens living and working in the territory of the Russian Federation, most of them are labor migrants from CIS states," the RKK official said.

"Migrants are not in the best situation; they often cannot get medical assistance and social support from the state, and can only count on paid medical services, which dramatically decreases their protection in the country," Kobets said.

He noted that in September, his organization "monitored the migration situation in all the regions, checked the readiness of regional RKK branches for interaction with government bodies, and saw how the provinces were implementing the policy towards labor migrants."

"The Primorye Territory is the region which we believe requires the closest attention to migration issues; it needs to develop a concept of work with migrants. It borders on Japan and China that supplies huge flows of migrants," he underlined adding that the necessity to settle migration issues arises in the light of the upcoming summit of the APEC countries."

At present, an opportunity is under consideration to set up migration center under the aegis of Red Cross in the Primorye Territory, which will provide assistance to migrants, including medical aid.

"We intend to work in the migration sphere, in order to counteract the development of xenophobia in the country, which regrettably is reaching its peak," the RKK director stated.

For his part, chief of the laboratory for migration studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Zhanna Zaionchkovskya underlined that the natural decrease in able-bodied population raises the issue to attract migrants who have higher education and are specialists in this or that field.

She noted that "the country has an acute problem of increase in illegal migrants." More than 30 percent of the labor migrants' market is illegal, according to her.

Zaionchkovskya stressed that "labor migrants, specially CIS citizens, account for 10 percent of the Russian labor market; by 2020, this figure may increase to 20 percent."

Public Chamber member, television journalist Maxim Shevchenko said it is necessity to attract non-profit organizations in the solution of problems related to labor migration. "It is the sector of non-commercial organizations that can take up one of the main functions: to protect migrants' rights and facilitate their adaptation in the territory of Russia," Shevchenko said.

For his part, his colleague, director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights Alexander Brod believes "that the necessity to set up a national system of monitoring of violations of migrants' rights has long been ripe in the country, as cases of violations of their rights have been increasing recently."

Public activists continue to insist that the country needs a federal program to prevent extremism and teach the culture of international dialogue. Such a program existed from 2002 through 2005, but it was scaled down for unclear reasons, and the ministry for the nationalities' affairs was dissolved, Brod reminded. (PNA/Itar-Tass)


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