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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Law Tackles High Illegal Immigration

The growing number of foreigners slipping illegally into Moscow has spurred local officials to design stricter legislation to curb the flow, Security Ministry officials said Wednesday.

If parliament passes the law, the courts will be able to mete out harsher criminal and financial penalties to individuals involved in the process - from those supplying fake visas and renting out flats to punishing actual illegal aliens.

About 120, 000 illegal immigrants have made the Moscow region home, said officials from the Security Ministry, successor to the KGB.

"The situation is no longer under control", said Alexander Mikhailov, head of the Security Ministry's press service for Moscow.

The majority of individuals seeking a safe haven come from Asia and Africa, with China, Iraq, India, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Zaire topping the list.

"These people provide no value at all", said Mikhailov. "They have no education. Many are unhealthy and present a danger of spreading different diseases such as AIDS, and stomach worms".

The Security Ministry said that illegal residents contribute to the city's increasing violent crime rate, with police logging in 531 violent crimes committed by foreigners in 1992 - an 87 percent increase over 1991.

Vyacheslav Sarychev, head of counter-espionage for the Security Ministry, said that 50, 000 Chinese are living illegally in the Moscow region and that they are banding together to form a new mafia group.

"If a Chinatown appears here, with a clan system, then the Chechen mafia will look like a children's game".

The Chinese Embassy refused to comment.

Officials outlined the three most common techniques used to sneak into Russia: refugees who get caught in Russia while in transit to the West, individuals who obtain fake documentation or enter on tourist visas and then just stay on, and those posing as students and staying on indefinitely.

Asylum seekers who flee on Aeroflot are often turned away by the West when it is apparent they don't have proper documentation to enter the country, said Vyacheslav Timofeyev, director of the Moscow region for the Security Ministry.

Emigration officials said this burgeoning phenomenon poses an even more severe problem, in light of Russia's struggle to provide refuge for its own refugees.