To discuss some of the aspects of migration in today’s Russia, euronews spoke with Vladimir Vasiliev, an MP with the United Russia party [conservative, led by current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin].
Vladimir Vasiliev is also the head of the Duma parliament’s security committee.
Serguei Doubine, euronews: Russia’s liberal-democrat party introduced a bill slapping migrants with up to three years in jail for refusing to leave Russia. Your party was among those which blocked it. What is United Russia’s position on migration?
Vladimir Vasiliev: Russia needs migrants. We are entering a difficult demographic stretch where already by 2015 we are going to feel a lack of the necessary numbers of working population. But at the same time migratory processes should be regulated. In this last year alone we have adopted several laws which regulate this more. For example, we introduced the “one-time permit” (for seasonal workers who don’t need permanent residence permit), and we have set a number of rules for highly-skilled workers, those who earn more than [the equaivalent of 47,500 euros per year], roughly. It was also decided to require proof of a migrant’s command of the Russian language.
euronews: Is that last measure to protect the migrants, manage their coming and going or is it a measure of repression?
Vasiliev: Probably, it is a combination of all of those things. First of all, a person with a single national language – in our case, a Russian with this country’s language – should not come unprepared. He must be able to read – even such simple things as safety regulations, for example – written in Russian. Secondly, when he masters the language, he will have fewer problems with the people he talks to. What is also important is that the language helps him to understand his environment, because sometimes migrants have a hard time understanding the customs or ways of doing things which are normal to the majority of the population in their chosen country of residence.
euronews: What about the opinion we are hearing more and more that the rise in extreme nationalist attitudes towards migrants could endanger the security of the whole of Russia?
Vasiliev: Let me give this example: my constituency is the Tver region (northeast of Moscow), and in our region alone there are 109 different nationalities. Russia is truly a multinational country. We are a case apart, not like mono-national states, because for centuries we have lived together so we know how to to it. But of course, this is frequently played up by politicians, especially in the runup to elections, and they heat up or even create this as a problem, often artificially.
euronews: There is also a view that wide-spread corruption relating to migration threatens Russia’s security. What should be done?
Vasiliev: For example, we introduced the possibility to dismiss indivuals involved in corruption on “loss of confidence” grounds. We register roughly 14,000 cases of corruption per year of either giving or taking bribes. If there’s a court conviction, you can fire this person. But if there’s no conviction, there have been instances where a person has successfully challenged a dismissal and got his position back. Now there is a law governing firing for loss of confidence. This is if the code of conduct is broken or a contract is violated; it applies if there is corruption but you can’t qualify it as a felony, if the crime has not be proven, and that’s important.
We are also implementing a huge police reform, of the biggest law-enforcement organ that deals with that sphere. Starting from the beginning of 2012 we will be increasing the salaries of policemen many times over, and they are the ones who work in the field, with migrants.