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Calls for stricter controls over foreign workers in Russia


MOSCOW, May 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's chief investigator urged on Thursday tighter controls for foreigners traveling to the country.

"Our country must not be allowed to turn into an open house where hoards of migrants come and go and we have no idea what they are really doing here," Alexander Bastrykin said at a meeting with Russia's Federal Migration Service (FMS) on fighting migrant crime.

Concerns have been voiced in Russia over a rise in migrant crime as workers from former Soviet republics are laid off due to the economic downturn.

The deputy head of the FMS, Mikhail Turkin, said that over 100,000 migrant workers in Russia, primarily from the construction sector, had been made redundant since the start of the year.

"In November-December 2008, employers dismissed nearly 80,000 foreigners. Since the start of the year... more than 100,000 foreigners have already been made redundant," Turkin said, adding that employers were now hiring fewer foreigners in general.

He also said that there had been a significant rise in crimes involving foreigners from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova.

"We have noticed a rise in the numbers of serious and extremely serious crimes. In particular, robberies are up 30%."

His comments came shortly before the Russian government announced the setting up of a special commission on migrant issues.

Turkin said a number of measures were due to be introduced which would allow private individuals to legally employ foreign workers. The FMS estimates that around 4 million migrant workers are employed by individual Russians in a number of posts, including drivers, housekeepers and au pairs.

More than 14.5 million foreigners entered Russia in 2008.

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