Sunday, May 5, 2024

Moscow’s ‘Chaotic’ Response to Migration Crisis Fragmenting Russian Political System, Rodin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 3 – Moscow has been “pursuing a chaotic migration policy,” seeking on the one hand to reassure Russians that it will take a harder line on regulating immigration and on the other to reassure businesses that it will continue to allow enough migrants to come into the country to overcome demographic decline, Ivan Rodin says.

            But the result of this approach, the political editor of Nezavisimaya Gazeta says, is a fragmentation of the political system, with regions increasingly going their own way and even the systemic parties taking different positions, a development with real risks for both foreign and domestic policies (

            More than 30 of the country’s federal subjects have adopted restrictions of various kinds on immigration, and pressure to do so is such, Rodin says, that the number will soon be greater than half of Russia’s more than 80 republics, krays and oblasts. And the systemic parties, not to speak of nationalists, are also splitting on this issue.

            Domestically, that means that the Kremlin is less in control of the situation than it would like; and various components of the system are feeling increasingly empowered to go their own way, developments that call into question Putin’s much-ballyhooed “power vertical” and that could spread to other issues as well.

            And in terms of foreign policy, what Moscow’s various political centers do with regard to immigration from various Central Asian countries is already having an impact on governments there, with many of them ready to protest vigorously about what Russia is doing and likely to conclude that they can no longer count on Moscow to maintain the order of the past.

            If Moscow further mistreats migrants and leads ever more of them to return home, that could certainly destabilize some of the countries in Central Asia. But that will have not only foreign policy consequences for Russia but domestic ones as well as some regions try to work out their own deals and others suffer the consequences of intensified worker shortages.

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