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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City to Track Migrant Laborers

City Hall has approved a $5.3 million program to monitor migration into Moscow, aiming to help track out-of-towners, provide migrant laborers with basic medical care and reduce the number of foreign workers in the capital.

The program, which is to begin next year and last through 2004, focuses on those who enter the city via land routes. It would allow foreigners and visitors from other Russian regions — who do not have permanent residence in Moscow — to fill out a voluntary registration form, which they would be able to exchange for a permit for a three-day stay in the city. "It will be an absolutely voluntary procedure," Rodion Borzenkov, spokesman for the city's migration committee, said in telephone interview Tuesday after the program was presented at City Hall.

Because out-of-towners must register with police within three days of arriving, the three-day card would be most helpful to those who arrive by car and have no tickets as proof of their arrival date.

In an interview with Kommersant, Deputy Mayor Valery Shantsev said the measure would "guard migrants from direct contacts with police, who extort bribes from them."

Migration committee data show there are nearly 8.5 million registered Muscovites, while the city's "daytime" population averages as many as 11.5 million people — suggesting that 3 million visitors enter Moscow every day. The committee estimates that about 800,000 migrants live in the city illegally — meaning they do not register with police.

According to police, more than 2 million people were detained in Moscow last year for "violating the passport regime," Interfax reported.

One problem often encountered by migrants is difficulty in getting medical care; however, city health officials have cited a high incidence of certain diseases among foreign workers — including AIDS, tuberculosis and venereal and intestinal diseases.

As an incentive to register, City Hall's program calls for establishing a network of health facilities to provide those who register with basic medical care.

Another key goal of the program is to slash the number of foreign workers employed in Moscow by 20 percent within the next two years and fill the vacancies with Russian citizens, mainly from the Central Federal District.

"Before hiring anybody, employers will have to check with the city's employment services to see whether any Muscovites are suitable for the opening," Borzenkov said.

The text of the program explicitly states that priority should be given to native Muscovites, especially on the skilled labor market. But this provision is unlikely to upset the status quo on Moscow's labor market, since most foreign migrants are blue-collar laborers.

The migration committee has said the bulk of the capital's foreign laborers come from Ukraine, Turkey and China, and their primary occupations are in construction, trade and eateries.

Furthermore, it is unclear how this demand will be made to comply with the Labor Code, which grants employers the right to select workers freely.

Currently, Moscow-based employers who hire migrants without permission from the Nationalities and Migration Ministry are subject to fines of up to 30,000 rubles, said Borzenkov.

He added that the city has already submitted plans to the federal government for establishing a migration police force that would be check businesses and mete out punishment. It was not clear when the force might be established.

Furthermore, carrying out such checks might prove difficult as many out-of-towners are employed off the books.

"Who told you I employ this bunch?" asked Ali, an Azeri shopkeeper, pointing at a group of young compatriots working at his kiosk near Domodedovskoye metro station. "They are just my nephews helping their uncle."