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Digest of the Migration 21st Century Journal Issue No. 5 (14), 2012

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Digest of the Migration 21st Century Journal

Issue No. 5 (14), 2012
The issue opens with an interview with Vladimir Gimpelson, Director of the Center for Labor Studies at the Higher School of Economics, entitled “Labor Needs Dr. Dolittle.” The interview was prepared as part of the keynote topic: Labor Market: A Friend–Foe Equation with All Unknowns. In his interview Prof. Gimpelson outlined the key problem of the Russian labor market: reduction of the “good” employment - at large enterprises - and growth of employment in the informal sector. This mainly concerns residents of Russia; according to the author’s estimates, the number of Russians working in the informal sector is about 20 million. Certainly, migrant workers also fall into this “black hole.” The reasons for that are a difficult economic situation in the country and lack of incentives for enterprises to come out of the shadows. In this context, it is problematic to talk about balancing and legalization of the labor market.
The issue continues with the section Conversation on a Forbidden Topic. It includes an article by Lidiya Grafova, a well-known journalist and public figure, under the title “Can We Defeat Labor Slavery in Russia When Corrupt Officials Themselves Are ‘Combating’ Corruption?” The author dwells on a scandalous incident in Moscow where a group of grassroots activists uncovered cases of forced labor (slavery) of migrant workers. However, law enforcement agencies did not how much enthusiasm in the investigation, and a criminal case against slaveowners started to disintegrate very soon. How it happens that migrants become slaves in full view of ordinary people and with their tacit consent, and why legal mechanisms for human rights protection do not work. These are the questions raised by Lidiya Grafova.
The next section, Open Tribune in the State Duma, includes two pieces of material based on the work of the ‘Open Tribune’. During the discussions, members of the Duma and nongovernmental organizations offered their vision of the future migration policy in Russia.
Jubilee of the Rhodes Forum is another section following up on an important public event. The Rhodes Forum was visited by leading Russian and international experts. Their findings and suggestions are published in this issue of the Journal.
Next, the issue publishes an interview, taken by Lidiya Grafova, with Blair Ruble, a well-known American political scientist focusing on Russian studies – a rarely pursued specialization. The material is entitled “Blair Ruble: Xenophobia and Anti-Americanism Have the Same Root.” The dialog is evolving around most important global issues, such as Russian-American relations and world trends in migration. In particular, Blair Ruble believes that worsening of relations between our countries and an exchange of recriminations are more fantastic rather than based on real preconditions. Talking about migration, he specifically highlighted the problem of xenophobia which exists virtually in all countries with large inflows of migrants. As an example, he cited, in particular, that even Americans when evaluating Barak Obama’s performance often talk more about his ethnic origin and confession rather than fruits of his work, which could also be seen as a sign of xenophobia.
The next article written by Doctor of Economics Olga Vorobiova continues to explore the keynote topic. The article is entitled “Fragile Balance: How Does the Law of Demand and Supply Work in Labor Migration?” The author analyzes the mixed role of labor migration in the Russian labor market. On the one hand, if guest workers are coming to Russia in millions, this means that the labor market is capable of absorbing them; migrants are not sitting idle and thus our economy does need them. On the other hand, Russia is very much behind the developed economies as concerns the level of productivity. And as long as employers have access to cheap unskilled labor, they have no incentives to upgrade their production facilities and absorb new technologies. Only creation of economic conditions for modernization and reduction of demand for manual labor will make it possible to balance the labor market and make a breakthrough on some economic indicators.
“Hatred Is Threatening Russia’s Future” is an article by Vyacheslav Postavnin, President of the Migration 21st Century Foundation. The article discusses that judging by all demographic forecasts the number of able-bodied Russians will be decreasing in the near term and thus they will have to be replaced with migrants. However, already today the situation in the society is very tense: local residents feel, to put it mildly, very uncomfortable because of the heavy inflow of migrants, mostly illegal workers. How to relieve this tension? The author is trying to find an answer.

“Ombudsmen Are Building Migration Bridges” is an article written by Lidiya Grafova on the basis of outcomes of the Dushanbe Conference of CIS Human Rights Ombudsmen. What can ombudsmen do to protect migrant workers’ rights? The article suggests several answers to this question.

Journalist Ivan Zhilin tried to find a job in Moscow as a street sweeper. Private companies were eager to hire him, whereas local housing units (ZhEKs) did not want to – not for all the tea in China. Why so? Ivan Zhilin is trying to find out in his story “The Street Sweeper: A Profession for the Narrow Circle?”
“Labor Migration into Russia: Pros and Cons” is another analytical paper on the keynote topic. Its author is Prof. Alexander Razumov, Doctor of Economics and Deputy Director General of the Research Institute of Labor and Social Insurance.
Discussion of the main topic continues with the article “A Bicycle with Square Wheels. Will Guest Workers Save Our Far East?” written by Elena German, a journalist from Vladivostok. Did the recent EurAsEC Summit in Vladivostok give more confidence to Far East residents? Why does out-migration from the region continue? What policy measures are needed to achieve a breakthrough and ensure real development of the region? Alexander Ivashkin, Chairman of the League of Financial Institutions, and Konstantin Lykov, his first deputy, are trying to find answers to these questions in the dialog with the journalist.
Valentina Podshibyakina, Deputy General Secretary of the All-Russia Trade Union Confederation, wrote an article “A Trade Union for All Languages”. The article discusses what steps are taken by trade unions in the CIS countries to protect labor rights of their compatriots, and how these organizations interact.
A research center of the SuperJobs portal conducted a survey which revealed growth of xenophobia among Russians. Journalist Marina Alexandrova writes about this in the report “Scared of Guest Workers.”

Anna Prokhorova, a consultant from the World Bank, contributed a paper entitled “Coming Out of the Shadows.” It describes Russian and worldwide practices of granting work patents to workers employed by private individuals, and this mainly concerns migrant workers. This topic was raised during a MiRPAL videoconference.

The material “Foreigners Are Afraid of Business the Russian Way” is dedicated to highly skilled foreign specialists working in Russia. In particular, it discusses that it is easier for executives of transnational companies opening representative offices in Russia to appoint foreigners to manage these offices than to entrust management to Russians, because the latter, as experts believe, often select staff based on nepotism rather than professional merits. Also, highly skilled foreigners bring in a corporate culture which has not yet properly established in Russia. However, it is very expensive for employers to maintain such specialists. That is why having put the business that was entrusted to them on a solid foundation and having transferred it to Russian managers, foreign specialists will be returning to the countries of origin.
The first center for servicing participants of the organized recruitment process was opened in Moscow. Sulaimon Shokhzoda, Deputy Director of the OPORA-Druzhba Center for Labor Exchange and one of the founders of the service center, tells about this in his article “Off to Work in Close Ranks?”

“Kazakhstan Labor Market Shows Worrisome Symptoms” is a report by Elena Sadovskaya, a MiRPAL member and international expert in migration and migration policy in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, in which she analyzes problems of the Kazakhstan labor market. They are basically similar to those faced by Russia. Structural unemployment, a shift in employment toward the informal sector, nationalistic sentiment, intensification of migration processes – all these factors are characteristic today of the labor market in Kazakhstan.

“Investors Are Coming to Moldova,” an article by Valentina Unguryanu, Head of the Labor Migration Department at the Moldavian Ministry of Labor, Social Protection and Families and a MiRPAL member, is a final piece in the discussion of the keynote topic. In particular, the expert underlines that the Moldavian economy in many respects depends on remittances that Moldavian migrants send home. To make sure that these monies are spent not only for current consumption but also invested in small business development, a special program has been designed in Moldova to help people open their own business.
Next comes the Language Barrier section. It includes reports by Sh. Isakulov, Candidate of Science in Economics from Uzbekistan, and reporter Marina Alexandrova, concerning a Russian language test introduced in Russia for migrant workers.
The section MiRPAL in Action includes another article by Anna Prokhorova, entitled “Remittances Like to be Counted.” The conference “Remittances: Accuracy and Benefits” was held in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyz Republic, which highlighted the role of remittances in the development of the countries of origin of labor migrants. The conference was initiated by the World Bank within the MiRPAL regional program with the Bank of Russia co-hosting and participating.
“To See the Face of Another Man” is a report from the section MigrantsFates. It was written by Olga Sushkova, master of divinity and lecturer at the Divinity College, St. Philaret’s Christian Orthodox Institute. The report describes, among other things, the experience of the Mongolfier (Air Balloon) Association aiming to help immigrants seeking political asylum in France.
The issue ends with a paper from the section Journalistic Competition: The Art to Live Together. In her report under the title “Well Placed Non-locals,” reporter Anastasia Dolgosheva tells the reader about education of migrants’ children in St. Petersburg.

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