Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Immigration Debate in Russia

We have spoken about the issue of immigration especially illegal immigrants in the United States. This post, however, is about the issue of immigration in Russia. The article I found on the NY Times website is about, in part, a man named Aleksandr A. Belov. He is the founder of an organization known as the Movement against Illegal Immigration. His main claim is that Russia, unlike the United States is not a nation built by immigrants. The post-Soviet generation in Russia, therefore, it seems trying to come to terms with its identity. Who is a Russian is an important question in this regard. What defines Russians-religion, ethnicity, nationalism?

Belov is of the opinion that Russia has never welcomed immigrants. However, the question is not just about Russia's identity. For the sake of argument, I am going to exclude illegal immigrants from this scenario. Therefore, what about those people who want to enter Russia, have all the requisite documents and are making use of legal means to enter the nation? Do we just ignore their right to migrate to Russia because Russia was not built by immigrants? Isn't freedom of movement a basic right? Is the us vs. them distinction so deep in Russia that there is not place for people who are ready to get into the country the "right" way?

1 comment:

Ozymandias said...

In a way, the guy makes his own point. Who would want to emmigrate to Russian? For all its natural beauty and awesome architecture, it's a country of enormous bigotry and corruption. Homosexual acts were illegal until 1993, and gay-pride marchers regularly find themselves in jail. During the last election, Putin ordered rural hospitals not to admit patients until their province had registered the necessary voter turnout to certify the vote. Not a great place to live, especially if you're an outsider.

More to the point, I'm not sure if your argument really works, simply because legal immigration to Russia isn't a big issue. I'm willing to bet that Belov is against non-Russian people trying to get Russian citizenship via a regulated process; as I said, bigotry is rampant in Russian culture. He's just using illegal immigration because he knows it's a resonant issue. People like him have a dream of a pure, Slavic Russia untainted by immigrants from anywhere, and it looks more and more like they're going to get it.