Kyrgyz labor migrants support national economy, lack equal rights in Russia

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Remittances from Kyrgyz citizens working in Russia make a significant contribution to the economic development of Kyrgyzstan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his recent visit to Bishkek.

According to the National Statistics Committee of Kyrgyzstan, remittances of Kyrgyz labor migrants from Russia to Kyrgyzstan amounted to $1.938 billion in 2016, 20% more than the previous year.

“This is just what we know from banking and postal transfers. In fact, the amount may be more,” Putin added.

According to the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic, the net inflow of remittances to Kyrgyzstan was $1.991 billion (18.3% increase compared to 2015), or 30.2% of the country’s GDP in 2016.

Equal rights

According to official data, about 600,000 Kyrgyz citizens work in Russia. However, their true number can be up to one million.

Thanks to Kyrgyzstan’s membership of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), this process (working in Russia) has become absolutely transparent, Tatyana Valovaya, EEU’s Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics, said at a press conference in Bishkek. “Citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic are protected in social and medical spheres,” the minister said. Documents will be completed soon to guarantee that retiring citizens of the EEU member countries will be able to receive pensions from all points of their work, she added.

After entering the EEU in August 2015, Kyrgyzstan has joined the single labor market of Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, and Russia. Kyrgyzstan’s citizens working in Russia no longer need to buy labor patents and take exams on the Russian language and Russia’s history and law. Kyrgyzstan’s university diplomas are now recognized in the EEU countries.

Due to equal rights, the number of Kyrgyzstan citizens working legally in the Russian Federation has increased against the reduction of labor migrants from other countries, Valovaya said. As a result, the remittances of migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan have also increased, she concluded.

Another opinion

However, Kyrgyz labor migrants in Russia do not share that optimism.

The situation with the rights of labor migrants in Russia has recently deteriorated, and there are violations regarding those belonging to minorities with non-Slavic appearance, participants of the roundtable held by the Social Projects Support Fund “Migration in the 21st century” in Moscow said.

There were cases when police beat labor migrants, kept them in rooms not suitable for holding detainees, did not provide an interpreter, and did not inform the embassies of their home countries. Then they were brought to courts which decided to deport them from Russia, Bishkek’s  Zanoza information agency reported. Many labor migrants do not speak good Russian and could not understand what the court was talking about. They were forced to sign papers they were not always able to read, the migrants said.

There were cases when employers refused to paid wages to labor migrants, who could not apply for protection in court because the employers did not conclude labor contracts with them.

Although the Russian legislation provides for large fines for illegal use of foreign workers, employers often bribe inspectors who relieve them from a fine or re-qualify violations to significantly reduce the fine.

Using illegal labor force without entering into employment contracts, employers do not pay social payments for employees and often pay lower wages.

Labor migrants suggested the Russian President to stop total checks of persons on ethnic and racial grounds in violation of the internal regulatory documents of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Such actions of the police also damage Russia’s image, the roundtable participants said.

They also suggested creating specialized migration courts in Russia, which would deal with administrative cases of migrants. Migrants could apply to such courts, regardless of their legal status, and from the moment they apply to court and before its decision, they should have the right to be presumed innocent until being proven guilty according to the law.

Blacklist

By the end of 2017, about 44,000 labor migrants from Kyrgyzstan will be withdrawn from Russia’s blacklist due to the expiration of the ban on their entry to Russia, the State Migration Service of Kyrgyzstan said.

More than 110 thousand Kyrgyz citizens were blacklisted by the Federal Migration Service of Russia, because they exceeded the legal period of stay in the country or worked illegally. Most of them committed administrative violations before Kyrgyzstan’s entry into the EEU.

About 52 thousand Kyrgyz citizens were deported from Russia by court orders and were banned to re-enter the country.