Svetlana Gannushkina, member of the board of the International Memorial Society, director of the Migration and Law network, chair of Civic Assistance committee, member of the governmental Commission on Migration Policy: "Parliament is not a place for discussion. The Duma is not a place for thinking. And laws are not written to be implemented.”
Over the past two weeks tragic events have taken place in Moscow and last Sunday was the culmination - pogroms in the Biriulevo district of Moscow. I heard about it on the radio and rushed through the house, knowing that there would be no sense in me going there at my age: I could hardly prevent the fighting. I do not know what should be done when pogroms are going on.
During the pogroms it seemed to me that the police behaved professionally enough. But where were they before the first stones were thrown? Where were the officials? The police could and should have taken preventative measures, because one thing is clear: tension was rising. Police and officials should have stopped all of this campaign on social networks actually organising the pogroms.
I took part in several broadcasts discussing the events in Biriulevo. I made an appeal to those who do not agree with me: "Let us not be opponents! There are pogroms taking place in our country! It is terrible. Together we have to do everything we can to prevent the spread of conflict!"
People agreed, nodded their heads - and once again everything comes back to talk about the fact that it is all the migrants' fault, how to get rid of them and how to educate them.
This is constantly being done on television and in the press, and people are subconsciously convinced: everything is the fault of evil migrants.
No matter what happens, it is the migrants who are chosen as the ones to blame.
All experts agree that it is local government, the police and the officials who are responsible for the pogroms in Biriulevo. It is well known that there were horrific violations at this vegetable warehouse, it was written about three years ago. So why do they attack the migrant workers?
Why are citizens of Russia at Matveyevsky market beating a police officer, and in response the police close down the place where Vietnamese migrants are working?
Why, when it is still not known who committed the murder, are they attacking migrants in Biriulevo?
Yet nobody notices the complete lack of logic.
Migrants are the easiest prey for those who want to vent their dissatisfaction and anger, and there is no other explanation for what is happening.
Meanwhile, the legislature is constantly aggravating the migrant situation. On 30 December last year Federal law No. 321-FZ "On Amending Article 26 of the Federal Law ‘On the Procedure for Exiting and Entering the Russian Federation” was passed. Now foreign nationals who do not leave Russia within 30 days of the expiration of their period of right to remain do not have the right to return for another 3 years.
Recently Section 3 was added to Article 18.8 of the Administrative Code. In accordance with this, if foreign citizens breach the terms of their stay in Moscow, Moscow region, St. Petersburg, or the Leningrad region, they will be subject to administrative expulsion which forbids them entry into Russia for another five years.
The result is an absurd situation: a person might go, for example, to the Tula region where this law has a different impact, pay a fine, receive an exit visa and avoid deportation. Then they return to Moscow, buy a ticket to their home country, leave, return legally and begin the process of obtaining a residence permit. This is not just our imagining, this is the advice given by employees of the Federal Migration Service.
I'd like to know who benefits from this arbitrariness?
Now imagine the following situation which is a common enough occurrence. A person has lived in Russia for a long time; they do not break any laws, they do something socially useful. For example, a man who has been married to a Russian citizen for 14 years and they have children together. The husband was finishing university in Russia and for several years has received a visa without leaving the country.
Then in his home country in Africa there are certain political events which prevent him from getting a new passport to replace the expired one. But naturally he can't return to a country in political upheaval and continues to live here, raise his children and to work.
Whereas before we advised him to apply to the Federal Migration Service, pay the fine to leave and come back, now he has no possibility to legitimise his stay. But he will not leave, not for three years, not for five years, he will live in Russia illegally and bribe the police every time he encounters them.
Recently at the Federation Council I raised a question about illegals not having the possibility to turn themselves in. I called upon the Federation Council to think about the consequences of the laws they were passing.
This inevitable deportation of foreign citizens who have breached the terms of their stay is linked to yet another oddity of our system. In Moscow there is a detention centre for foreign citizens which is currently being renovated. I asked their director: "How is a person taken into custody if there is no space in the centre?" I got the answer: "We appeal to Egorova, chair of the Moscow City Court, and request that the judges don’t make decisions like that."
It turns out that these questions are resolved very easily. All the director of the centre needs to do is appeal to the chair of Moscow City Court and ask that they tell the federal judges not to make judgments in accordance with the law!
I get the feeling that we are playing some sort of bizarre games, passing absurd laws.
They create a situation of legal deadlock and then we simply agree not to implement the law. Laws are not being written to be implemented.
Parliament is not a place for discussion. The Duma is not a place for thinking. And laws are not written to be implemented.
But there is a well-established chain of people who benefit from this situation: the unscrupulous employer for whom illegal migrants are more profitable than legal workers; the corrupt official who turns a blind eye to obvious violations; the police officer who feeds off bribes; and finally there is the nationalist who terrorises migrants, directing popular discontent against them, detracting attention form the real problems and their own responsibility for what is happening.
The destruction of this chain needs to begin, of course, not with migrants.
In order to achieve any results, there must be the political will of the state, and this will never make itself known until society is aware of this, and demands it.