Staunton, March 25 – Everything Russian officials say about labor migration is “a lie,” Ruslan Gorevoy says, from the numbers of such people, which they dramatically understate to the impact they have on Russian workers, which they ignore, to the amount of money which they send home rather than spend where they earn it.
The last figure, the Versiya commentator says, is truly horrific. In contrast to Russian official claims that migrant workers sent home only about 10 billion US dollars, figures from various sources show that they dispatched “no less than 50 billion” in 2018 alone (versia.ru/migrantov-v-rossii-perestali-schitat-a-oni-vyvozyat-po-10-milliardov-dollarov-v-god-tolko-po-oficialnym-kanalam).
To comprehend just how much money that is, Gorevoy says, it is an amount that would pay for 15 Crimea bridges; and consequently, he says, the role of migrant workers in Russia is increasingly becoming that of “a new yoke” under which ordinary Russians are being compelled to exist because of the actions of their own rulers.
But that cost pales before what he says is a rise in crimes committed by immigrants, the way in which they keep wages low or take jobs from Russians, or threaten to overwhelm Russia demographically by dramatically increasing the Muslim share of the population in the coming decades.
Gorevoy himself is in almost all cases overstating these threats, but his article is a useful reminder that the Russian government has been lying about the role of immigrant workers – and that now, someone who considers its statistics carefully, can document that fact even if there is the risk of falling into the other extreme.
And his article is both explains why xenophobia against immigrants as such is rising in Russia and represents an early warning about the impact of the Putin government’s plans to bring in 10 million more migrant workers to save the economy from the consequences of the indigenous population’s demographic collapse.
If Gorevoy is right even in part, the consequences of the Kremlin’s plan will not be to save the economy but to spark the kind of social and ethnic unrest that will make Russia ungovernable except at levels of coercion that will make the economic development that plan is supposed to promote impossible to achieve.