Staunton, February 23 – The net number of migrants coming in Russia last year was the lowest since 2005, 147,000 in all, a figure down 41 percent from the year before and one that reflects a small decline (four percent) in the number of arrivals and a large increase (17 percent) in the number of migrants returning to their own countries.
And for the first time since 2006, the net change in the number of people arriving as opposed to leaving the Russian Federation from beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union was negative, with a decline of 4199, RBC journalists reported the Rosstat figures show (rbc.ru/economics/23/02/2019/5c6e98fa9a79473a80b8a83c?from=from_main).
Much of this decline reflected a fall-off in the number of migrants from North Korea, one that occurred after the UN banned having other countries allow the arrival of immigrant workers from there as part of its sanctions regime. But there were also declines among people from Western countries, although they were smaller.
Perhaps most dramatic was the shift in the source of immigrants toward Central Asia and away from Ukraine. Tajikistan was the leader with a net plus of 31,000 workers, and Kazakhstan second with a net 26,500 immigrants, while Ukraine fell to third place, with a net change of plus 14,800 in 2018 compared to a net change of plus 47,700 in 2017.
The contraction of the migration flow from Ukraine, Olga Chudinovsky, a Moscow State University economist says, reflects “the exhaustion of the flow of forced migrants from the south-eastern portions” of Ukraine. Now Ukrainians seeking work abroad look to Europe and especially Poland.
(The reduction in the size and flow of Ukrainians means that transfer payments by Ukrainians from Russia to Ukraine has fallen precipitously, from “almost a billion US dollars” in 2016 to “all of 200 million US dollars” last year (topcor.ru/6205-obem-denezhnyh-perevodov-iz-rossii-na-ukrainu-sokratilsja-v-pjat-raz.html).)
Russia, the RBC journalists say, is losing its attractiveness for many groups, Chudinovsky continues. This is not only because of the higher cost of registration, which is pushing up illegal immigration, but also because of the country’s economic difficulties. At the same time, Russian migration statistics are extremely unreliable and must be used with caution.
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