Staunton, May 1 – Even though the number of immigrant workers in Russia has fallen, the combined impact of the end of the “Crimea is Ours” euphoria, mounting economic problems, and concerns about terrorism and crime has contributed to a dramatic rise in Russian hostility toward non-Russian gastarbeiters.
The worsening economic situation means that many Russians view these immigrants as a threat to their own positions and the end of euphoria about Putin’s Anschluss of Ukraine’s Crimea mean that Russians are focusing once again on this group in the population, and ever more Russians do not have a positive view of them.
On the one hand, encouraged by media reports about the involvement of Central Asians in terrorist incidents, ever more Russians believe that migrants are behind the terrorist threat to Russia itself (ritmeurasia.org/news--2017-04-26--terrorizm-stavit-migracionnuju-politiku-pered-neobhodimostju-novyh-reshenij-29810 and caucasustimes.com/ru/uzbeki-vzryvajut-rossiju/).
And on the other, Russians are again accepting the notion that immigrants are a major source of crime in their cities, a notion that officials generally rejected earlier but now often support (kp.ru/daily/26671/3693365/ and newsland.com/community/politic/content/dvorniki-i-stroiteli-iz-srednei-azii-ukhodiat-v-bandity/5800793).
According to a new Levada Center poll, 50 percent of Russians are hostile to gastarbeiters and two out of three that migrant workers are now such a problem that restrictions should be placed not only on their total number but on where they can settle so they won’t be concentrated in major cities (vedomosti.ru/politics/articles/2017/04/28/687871-otnoshenie-migrantam-uhudshaetsya#/galleries/140737493254050/normal/1).
A major reason for this hostility, experts say, is that the migrants have no one to speak up on their behalf. Unlike in Western Europe, there are no political parties committed to integrating migrants. Consequently, when there are problems, they tend to fester, something that could be avoided if a pro-immigrant party were to emerge.