12 September 2021.  Rossiiskaya Gazeta

Written by Mikhail Falaleev

Translated by Elizaveta Ovchinnikova


The mass brawls have swept across Russia. They have occurred mainly between foreigners and prompted again both experts and ordinary citizens to resume the discussion about the pros and cons of migration.
Both of these points of view seem obvious. The advantages are, first of all, the importance of foreign labour to support economic growth. The disadvantages are, most importantly, police reports, the top lines of which are firmly occupied by the country’s guests who have committed various crimes (including extremist ones). What outweighs?


Migration and its associated pros and cons are a serious problem for all developed countries. And Russia is no exception here. Although, at least until recently, it was believed that things were comparatively not that bad in this area. But is it true now, when, after the weakening of anti-Covid restrictions, the flow of foreigners arriving in Russia in different ways has increased dramatically? The ‘RG’ reporter has talked about this with a well-known criminologist, President of the International Police Association Russian Section, Doctor of Law, Lieutenant General Yury Zhdanov.


Yury, let’s start, as they say, from the beginning. According to your data, how many foreigners are currently in Russia?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: In January-July, 6,475,509 migration registrations of foreign citizens and stateless persons were completed in Russia.

- Where are these guests from?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: On the results of the half-year, two-thirds of the registered persons have come from Central Asia: from Uzbekistan – 1,869,275, from Tajikistan – 1,073,313, Kyrgyzstan – 464,339, Kazakhstan – 225,880.

- Have they got the job yet?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: Not everyone. The number of work permits for foreign citizens and stateless persons has increased by one and a half times – 44,488 permits. Of these, 25,699 are for highly qualified specialists and 3,053 – for qualified specialists. 1,115,729 patents have been filed. The number of valid patents at the end of the reporting period was 1,438,730.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, 265,056 migrants were registered, who came to study with us. And this is not counting the 800 thousand migrant children who study in schools.

- Let’s do the math. So, out of about 6.5 million legal migrants, 2 million 356 thousand are registered in connection with work, about 300 thousand more are students. And what are the remaining almost 4 million people who have officially registered and hold migrant status occupied with?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: That is the question that no one can answer for sure.

- But there are also illegal migrants.

Mr Yury Zhdanov: According to operational data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, in 2021 the number of illegal migrants ranged from 800 thousand to 1 million people. Mostly they were visitors from the CIS countries.

According to the Institute of Demography, Migration and Regional Development, the number of illegal and semi-legal migrants in Russia in January last year reached 10-12 million

At the same time, experts claim the minimum number of illegal migrants in Russia today ranges from 2.5 million people. And according to the chairman of the Supervisory Council of the Institute for Demography, Migration and Regional Development, Yury Krupnov, the number of illegal and semi-legal migrants in Russia in January last year reached 10-12 million. There is reason to believe that many of them were unable or unwilling to leave Russia during the pandemic.

- But in general, illegal immigrants are identified and expelled?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: If it is any consolation, then, according to the Russian Interior Ministry, 113,833 submissions were sent for seven months on the non-permission of foreign citizens and stateless persons to enter Russia. Compare with 10 million possible illegal immigrants.

- How serious is the presence of such a number of them?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: Even the minimum estimate of 1 million illegal migrants for the 146 million population of Russia is an impressive figure that causes alarm about internal stability and security.

For comparison: 2 million illegal migrants in 2021 for the 332 million population of the United States and 1.8-3.9 million illegal migrants for the 447 million population of the European Union, cause serious concern to their governments. They urge not to cross the ‘red line’ threatening the national security of states, freeze the practice of open borders, migration loyalty projects and tighten migration legislation.

- Is there really a threat? Or is everything greatly exaggerated?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: Rather – understated. After all, we can only talk about registered crimes committed by migrants. And how many latent ones?

- By the way, how many crimes do migrants commit?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: By the end of 2020, the number of crimes and administrative offences related to migration and migrants was more than 100 thousand per year. And this is under significant restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

- It sounds too vague. What have they done besides illegally staying with us?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: Migrants form ethnic organised criminal groups (OCGs) to commit common crime. In particular, embezzlement, attacks on Russians, including causing serious harm to health, murders. The most striking figure: last year, the activities of almost 240 ethnic OCGs were suppressed, 45 national ‘crime lords’ occupying the highest position in the criminal hierarchy were held liable. In respect of eight of them, a decision was made to declare their stay in Russia undesirable.

- How many criminal offences are on the account of such guests?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, in January-July, 21.7 thousand crimes were committed by foreign citizens and stateless persons in Russia. This is 5.4 percent more than in the same period of 2020. The whole crime set is present: robberies, murders, embezzlements, thefts, rapes, frauds. This is out of a total of 100 thousand of all ‘quasi-immigration’ crimes. Most of these crimes were registered in the Central, Volga, Siberian, Ural, and Southern Federal Districts.

- What about extremist crimes?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: Well, how without them! According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, a total of 1,450 terrorism-related crimes were registered in January-July. This is an increase of 2.2 percent compared to the same period last year. Another 687 are extremism-related crimes, and this is already an increase of 31.1 percent. Of course, not only migrants are involved in these offences.

- And mass brawls? Of course, they have happened before. But not as often as this summer! Is this some kind of new phenomenon?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: It seems that way. There is a surge in public mass conflicts of migrants causing a great public outcry. So, only in the last three summer months almost weekly and in August – almost daily there were mass violations of public order, mainly fights. I will not cite statistics, they are well-known.

- Who is fighting with whom?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: Basically, all the mass fights between migrants took place with the participation of citizens of Central Asian states – Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. And only a few – with the participation of residents of the North Caucasian republics of Russia, mainly from Dagestan and Chechnya. They fought near jobs or places of residence of migrants from Central Asia.

- Were the brawls spontaneous?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: The thing is that they were not. The organisers of these ‘events’ specifically discussed in advance the place, time and participants in the conflicts. The mobilisation of diasporas’ representatives took place on social networks, especially through WhatsApp. And almost half of those detained by the police have appeared to be undocumented migrants. They are the easiest to mobilise for something illegal – they have nothing to lose.

- Why is this happening right now, not in winter or spring?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: Coincidentally, there is still time to certificate one’s legal status before the expiration of the migration moratorium, which is on 30 September. Independent experts among the reasons for the frequent fights among migrants name the redistribution of jobs, competition between newly arrived migrant workers who agree to any labour conditions. The classic situation with Marx-like strikebreakers.

- But there was already one moratorium – until 15 June. And there were no mass brawls then.

Mr Yury Zhdanov: And this is what worries me.

- Do you want to say that it is now very profitable for someone to organise regular mass brawls among migrants in Russia?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: In any case, it looks very much like it. I believe that these brawls are an element of manipulators and provocateurs’ programme of actions. As a result, radical Islamists are becoming more active (banned in the RF), especially in the migrant environment in Russia.

The threat of transformation by provocateurs of migrant brawls into mass street riots, in which ordinary citizens can also be involved, is not excluded

This is exactly what corresponds to the theory of ‘controlled chaos’ developed by the US intelligence services. Americans really need this chaos in Russia, especially after their stampede from Afghanistan. However, for some reason they do not understand that chaos is chaos because it cannot be controlled. But it can be stopped.

- What does controlled chaos mean?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: In our case, to put it very briefly, it is the transformation of migrant fights into mass street riots and pogroms, which begin to involve other citizens. The scenarios can be very different. Let’s say, for a start – armed resistance of local residents to migrant workers-rioters against the alleged inaction of the police and the Rosgvardiya. I emphasise – alleged inaction. After all, such ‘resistance’ can be provoked or organised, as long as blood is shed, no matter whose. And then you can already use social discontent.

- What do you think should be done?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: It is necessary to curtail the excessively liberal migration open-doors policy. And tighten the migration legislation. And – urgently.

- Why urgently?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: I think we need to have time to react to possible complications of the situation after 30 September, when the ‘migration moratorium’ expires.


Key Question


- What are these toughening bills?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: First of all, the bill that the Ministry of Internal Affairs initiated on 1 March – On the conditions of entry (exit) and stay (residence) in the Russian Federation of foreign citizens and stateless persons. Its adoption – if it happens – is planned from 1 January 2024.

In particular, there are the following proposals. Those who want to come to us will need: registration of a single document – a migrant’s electronic ID card; registration of an e-visa; fingerprinting of a foreign citizen; registration on the Public Services Portal; inclusion in the register of foreign workers; introduction of a register of unscrupulous inviting individuals; register of employers inviting migrant workers; non-admission to the country of foreign citizens without signing a ‘loyalty agreement,’ which involves refusal to participate in unauthorised demonstrations, rallies and pickets.

- But this is the minimum of what the cradle of democracy, the United States, requires from all those entering.

Mr Yury Zhdanov: There is something else. There are three migration regimes of stay or residence in Russia for foreigners. Firstly, the short-term stay regime that is no more than ninety days in total during a calendar year. Secondly, the regime of long-term stay – more than ninety days in total during a calendar year without obtaining a permanent residence permit. Thirdly, permanent residence, that is, indefinitely. To obtain a permanent residence permit, a general and simplified procedure is introduced.

- This is, in fact, liberalisation of migrant legalisation...

Mr Yury Zhdanov: There is also tightening. The bill introduces a generalising concept of ‘expulsion’ instead of two independent concepts ‘administrative expulsion’ and ‘deportation.’ It is easier for us to get rid of undesirable guests. This is a system of state measures of a coercive effect, consisting in transfer of a foreign citizen out of the Russian Federation.

- How is this supposed to work?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: It is assumed the court will appoint the expulsion as a type of administrative punishment. But a foreigner may also be expelled by authorised federal executive authorities out of court in other cases established by the draft federal law.

- A timely bill. So what is the problem?

Mr Yury Zhdanov: The problem is the timing. Such a law is needed today. I think, taking into account the situation, it should be introduced from 1 January next year.