Staunton, Aug. 15 – The decline in the ruble’s exchange rate is not only boosting inflation for Russians but reducing the value of ruble incomes for Central Asian migrant workers there and leading from ten to fifty percent of them to think seriously about returning home or moving to third countries, according to Moscow experts on migration.
Bakhrom Ismailov, the head of the Uzbek diaspora in the Russian capital, is the most pessimistic. He says that a survey he has conducted among his co-nationals there shows that as many as half of all Uzbeks in Russia are now thinking about leaving (vedomosti.ru/society/articles/2023/08/15/990094-chast-trudovih-migrantov-mozhet-pokinut-rossiyu).
Not only are they seeing their paychecks buy less in Russia but they recognize that the relative advantage in pay they have had in Russia relative to what they could receive in their native Uzbekistan has declined sharply. Moreover, Ismailov continues, they have more choices and may move to third countries.
Others are less pessimistic. Abdullo Davlatov, head of the Union of Tajikistanis in Russia, says he does not expect the outflow caused by the decline in the ruble to exceed ten percent, a figure also given by Russian expert on migration, Vadim Kozhepov who says that many are in Russia for more reasons than just income.
But it seems clear that many Central Asians will leave, especially in the less well-paid sectors of the economy such as housecleaning, and that employers will either have to offer higher wages to get Russians to take their place or cut back in their services, further complicating the lives of Russians themselves.