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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Migration Chief Criticizes Ethnic Enclaves

The government should not permit the creation of so-called ethnic enclaves where foreigners outnumber native Russian citizens, the Federal Migration Service chief said Thursday.

The comments by Konstantin Romodanovsky came one day after the announcement of a new government policy that bars immigrants from trading at street stalls and markets.

"I consider that settlements of the Chinatown-type would be unacceptable for Russia and I can assure you that there will be no such settlements," Romodanovsky told NTV television. "Migration is a very complicated matter, a universal problem that is a sensitive issue, and one must be very careful."

His deputy, Vyacheslav Postavnin, said in a newspaper interview published Thursday that the concentration of foreigners in any district or region should not surpass "17 to 20 percent" of the native population, particularly if they have a different national culture and religious faith.

"Exceeding this norm creates discomfort for the indigenous population," Postavnin told Vremya Novostei.

According to a new Cabinet order regulating labor migration for the next year issued Wednesday, migrants would be prohibited from selling alcohol or pharmaceuticals as of Jan. 1. Foreigners should comprise no more than 40 percent of retail personnel employed outside of stores during the period ending April 1 and will not be allowed to take these jobs further on next year.

President Vladimir Putin ordered his Cabinet last month to take steps to decrease the employment of foreign workers at markets, saying they were crowding out native Russian producers and retailers.

Postavnin said 10 million to 12 million foreigners work in Russia, including about 7 million illegally. Each of Russia's 88 regions will be able to set quotas for the amount of foreign labor needed, he said.