Caucasian Regional Studies

Caucasian Regional Studies
The International Association For Caucasian Regional Studies
Law Politics Sociology Economics Modern History International Relations

Caucasian Regional Studies, Issue 1, 1996


Alexander Ossipov *

The trends and character of migratory policy in modern Russia are closely linked with questions that are matters of principle: the extent of Russian society's openness, the bases of its relationship with neighbouring states, the division of powers between the centre and the periphery within the framework of a federation, the real possibilities for safeguarding law and order and basic human rights, the role and the place of national ideology, and the interpretation of the concept 'national interests'.

A study of migratory policy carried out in separate regions and the ideological discourse linked with it allow one to see the peculiarities of processes of great importance not only for Russia as the whole, but for neighbouring states also, because the activity of regional authorities in this field directly influences internal political relations. The aforesaid may refer in particular to the north Caucasian regions of the Russian Federation mainly populated by Russians, namely, the Krasnodar region. This is currently the subject of lively comment by local mass media, representatives of the regional and district administration as well as public and political figures, who often express their viewpoints on this matter. Migratory influx is assessed as one of the main problems, being a source of a great number of difficulties and troubles for local residents. 'For several years Kuban Society has been in a state which is close to panic - due to the intensive migration into the region of refugees from all parts of the ex-Soviet Union'.1 What are the characteristic features of the discourse on the questions connected with migration, and how does its content square with the current situation?

1. Migratory Situation

The Krasnodar Region occupies an area of 75.5 thousand square kilometres (excluding the Republic of Adijei, the former autonomous province of Adijei which ceased to be a component part of the region in 1990). According to the census of 1989 its population is 4,620,900 people.2 By the end of 1994, due to the migratory influx, the estimated number of residents of the region reached 4,987,100 people.3

In 1989 Russians made up 86.7 percent of the population of the region excluding the Adijei.4 The migratory influx into the region, caused by political and social and economic cataclysms has significantly increased since the end of the 1980s. From 1980-83 the population of the region (including the Adijei) grew owing to the migration of 76,890 people, from 1984-87, 119,708 people, from 1988-91 - 203,878 people (excluding Adijei).5 Mechanical growth in 1988 amounted to 30,650 people in 1988 and in 1994 to 95 800 people.6 Since 1990 the natural increase of the population is measured in negative figures, and general growth in 1993 amounted to 60,300 people and in 1994 to 63,000 people.7 Due to various causes among which favourable natural-climatic conditions, developed infrastructures, and relative political stability are of not least importance, the region turned out to be attractive for refugees of various categories from different regions of the ex-USSR as well as for the 'forced' migrants leaving the regions of armed conflicts and the territories where a more or less discriminatory policy is being openly carried out. The main volume (66 per cent in 1994) of the mechanical influx is the result of inter-regional migrations within the Russian Federation, 48 per cent of this category consisting of settlers from Siberia, the Far East and Extreme North, 19 percent being settlers from the North Caucasus. The Republics of the ex-USSR provide one third of the overall number of migrants. Between 1994-95 the biggest influx arrived in the region in decreasing order from Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Georgia, Uzbekistan and Armenia. In the ethnic context representatives of East Slavic people (87,39 per cent) and Armenians (7.74 per cent)8 prevailed among the migrants from the 'Near Abroad'.

The total number of forced migrants by mid - 1995 exceeded 200,000 people according to the data of the Regional Administration for Internal Affairs. These people were registered by the bodies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs according to the place of residence and only a small number of them got the official status of refugee or forced migrant. In 1994 'Russian-speaking' people (Mainly Russians and representatives of other East Slavic people) made up approximately 61 per cent of this category, Armenians - 24.7 per cent, Azeris - 1.4 per cent, Kurds - 1 per cent, Turks - 7.2 per cent, Assyrians - 0.3 per cent.9 The remaining 4.8 per cent were mainly Abkhaz and Georgians - refugees form Abkhazia. In 1995 the Russians' share increased a little due to the influx of refugees from Chechnya. A remarkable number of temporary and seasonal migrants arrive in the region from the Transcaucasus and the republics of the North Caucasus as well. Many 'economic migrants', coming first of all from Georgia and Armenia, avoid any contacts with the authorities and these very circumstances serve as a basis for various kinds of speculation about the large number of illegal and non-registered migrants settled in the region as well as about their ethnic composition.

2. Regional Acts regulating migration.

The reaction of the regional authorities to the influx of migrants basically takes the form of various restrictive measures, complicating settlement for the newcom-ers, as well as by measures taken to control those persons who are temporary residents on the territory of the region. On the basis of the Resolution of the regional Council of People's Deputies of 26 August 1989 the permanent registration (permission of permanent residence) of those citizens who were arriving to settle in the region, was ceased till 1 January 1992 'due to the overpopulation of the area, the acuteness of food, residential, social, ecological and other problems, and tension in international matters'.10

Notary offices and executive committees of the local Councils were forbidden to certify a contract for the purchasing and selling of houses exercised by the citizens who had no permanent registration. On 7 August 1992 the Session of the Regional Council took the decision 'Concerning regulation of migration in the Krasnodar Region' defining the strategy and main trends of migratory policy of the regional authorities. This document has extremely toughened up the procedure for registration and introduced all the basic restrictions valid up to the present day. Several categories of persons were established who could obtain permanent residence on the basis of permission: these were the closest relatives of residents of the region; former residents of the region unlawfully repressed in the period from 1920-50; former residents of the region retaining the right of a dwelling space; those servicemen and soldiers who had obtained their discharge and were transferred to the reserve; residents of the region who had served a sentence according to the verdict of the court; specialists who were needed for the region as an exception within the limits of established quotas; persons who were born on the territory of the region or had resided there for more than 5 years; citizens having relatives in the line of ascent residing permanently on the territory of the region for more than 5 years; persons having arrived in the region from the republics of the ex-USSR as a result of residence-exchange. For everybody else a ban on registration was imposed.11

Later on the administration of the region passed a series of acts mainly asserting the decision of the Regional Council of 1992, step by step toughening up the details the migratory regime and introducing new sanctions for its infringement. From March-April 1993 obligatory registration was introduced for residents of countries from the 'near abroad' temporarily residing on the territory of the region. In fact a border control was established in the area . According to the resolution of the Head of Administration of the Region T222 of 19 April 1994, a visa regime has been established for the residents of the countries of the CIS that entered the territory of the region. On 7 June 1995 a regional law was passed 'on the Order of Registration of the term and accommodation on the territory of the Krasnodar Region' 12 by the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnodar Region and on 23 June it was signed by the governor, Mr. E. M. Kharitov. The law reproduced all the main provisions of the previous acts and introduced new restrictions.

Thus, according to the law, citizens of the Russian Federation should be registered, as well as temporary residents on the territory of the region, and the length of time required for settlement has been increased from 5 to 10 years for permanent residents of the region who are entitled to register their closest relatives and the like with themselves. The question of migratory policy is directly linked with the constitutional distribution of competence between the federation and the subjects of the federation as far as human rights are concerned: Article 71 of the provision 'B' of the Constitution of the Russian Federation of 1993 pertains to the Russian Federation 'regulation and safeguarding of human rights and freedoms of a citizen, regulation and protection of rights of ethnic minorities'.

Distribution of competence within the Federation was described in a similar way in the Constitution of the Russian RSFSR before the enforcement of the Constitution of the Russian Federation in 1993. It is obvious that the normative acts, passed in the Krasnodar region (similar to those in other re-gions), provide not for the protection, but rather for the regulation, of human rights and decrease the level of state guarantee for these. Therefore, the penetration into the competence of the federation is absolutely clear. The restrictions taken by the regional authorities since 1989 and directed against migrants contradict and will contradict the constitutional bases of the RSFSR and the Russian Federation. Although the measures of the regional authorities described above are contrary to federal legislation, on the whole they have not encountered any opposition from Mos-cow; on the contrary, they have met with support.

3. Practice.

The acts of the regional authorities of a distinct antimigratory character have been impact on the condition of migrants from most of the Russian regions. First of all, many people who belong to this category have relatives in the Kuban or are the natives of the territory of the region. Secondly, according to the current resolutions, permanent registration is given to the employees of enterprises and organisations who, on a sharing basis, take part in building housing and in the development of the infrastructure on the territory of the region. Migrants of Siberia and the Extreme North to a significant extent belong to this very category and it is beneficial to the authorities to develop a relationship with structures ready for investment in the regional treasury.

The forced migrants turn out to be in a different situation, especially those from the 'near abroad' and 'the individuals of non-Slavic nationalities'. Till 1993 in the Russian Federation there was no established or united order of registration of refugees. In the Krasnodar region temporary regulations on work with the forced migrants were introduced in August 1992. Meskhetian-Turks arriving in the region from Uzbekistan after the Fergan events of 1989; Kurds and Azeris fleeing Armenia, and Armenians leaving Azerbaijan, i.e. the individuals who had arrived in the region before the USSR fell apart - did not get permanent residence or encountered significant impediments in obtaining it. In 1992 the regional authorities allowed only those individuals who had close relatives in the territory and those who were the citizens of the Russain Federation to be given the status of forcibly displaced persons. These principles are valid till the present day, and the regional immigration service founded in 1993 is guided by them.

The resolutions of the head of Regional Administration T494 of 23.12.1993 and T222 of 19.04.1994 allow the regional immigration service to endow with the status of refugee or forced migrant only those individuals who have relatives permanently residing on the territory of the region for more than 5 years (spouses, parents, children, own brothers and sisters). According to the regional law of 7.06.1995 'the right to a settled way of life' for those who are entitled to register their refugee relatives with themselves has been prolonged from 5 to 10 years. Thus only a reduced number of people are endowed with the status of forced migrants. Although by mid-1995 there were more than 200,000 actual refugees and migrants in the region, from 1 April 1992 till 1 July 1995 the status of forced migrant was given to only 23,443 people, among them 1859 in 1994 and 7,392 people in the first half of 1995 (mainly refugees from Chechnya).13

The policy of the regional authorities and the administrations of lower levels is directed at the creation of maximally unfavourable conditions for life and settlement for migrants from ex-Soviet republics who do not belong to the privileged categories and aims at, on one hand, stimulating their departure from the territory of the re-gion, and on the other hand - averting the entrance/arrival of new migrants. A powerful means of pressure on migrants is registration, as the lack of it deprives people of a series of basic rights. According to the data of the office for Internal Affairs in October 1994, out of 184,125 'migrants, arriving in the region for settlement on an international basis' 56,401 were not registered (30.6 per cent), and this proportion essentially remains unchanged to this day.

The refugees from ex-Soviet republics, settled on the territory of the region before 1992 and not having obtained registration, are not recognised as Russian citi-zens in contravention of the law of the Russian Federation 'On citizenship' (first of all it refers to Meskhetian Turks). The unregistered are refused marriage registration (even if only one of the spouses has not got the registration). Those who have not been registered before are refused the necessary official registering of houses purchased by them between 1989-1990. Those refugees deprived of the registration but the exceptions can not be employed at a permanent job and have positions that require qualifications. Due to the lack of permanent registration pensions, allowances and benefits are not paid. Regional resolutions of previous years, despite their strict character, allowed definite, although restricted possibilities for the registration of migrants from the ex-Soviet republics. Present data reveal definite ethnic preferences of the authorities in these matters.

According to the information of the office for Internal Affairs quoted above, in October 1994 the composition of the group of forced migrants having no registration, consisted of 13.1 per cent Russian-speaking migrants - 49.9 per cent Armenians, 94.8 per cent the Turks. Serious problems for migrants and generally for individuals of 'non-Slavic nationalities' are caused by the active participation of the Cossack movements that came into existence in 1989-1990 calling for a 'rehabilitation' of the Cossack population as a military class/estat that existed before 1917 and was the subject of ruthless repression by the Soviet authorities, as well as for group rights for the Cossacks as a special 'cultural-ethnic' community. These ideological premises in line with strong nationalistic tendencies, the cult of strength and socially archaic character condition the nihilistic attitude of many of the leaders and activists of the Cossack movement towards the law in general and towards the current legislation in particular.

In some regions of Russia, including the Krasnodar region, the Cossack organisations create militarised formations with the connivance of some authorities and local administrations and misappropriate some authoritative functions. At the same time they strongly influence regional administrations and authorities at lower levels, and these demonstrate at least a readiness to give way to the Cossacks. Since the beginning of the 90s members of the Cossack organisations have co-operated with the policy in patrolling and checking the passport regime. The Resolution of the Head of Administration of the region T220 of 19.04.1994 legalised this practice. 'The raids' to 'check the passport regime' carried out by the Cossack organisation illegally as well as with the staff members of the bodies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are accompanied by unsanctioned search of houses, beatings and threats against the refugees.

4. Ideological situation

The range of opinions brought to local people's notice is kept within the fol-lowing range. At one end there is the comparatively controlled comment found in official documents; excerpts from the Resolution T 222 by the Head of Administration of the region 'Concerning extraordinary measures for fighting against criminality': 'Refugees and forced migrants continue to arrive in the region... Together with the refugees criminal elements penetrate into the territory of the region and they are united into organised armed criminal groups. Recently approximately one and a half thousand crimes have been committed with their participation. At an accelerating speed prices are being raised on property, food and other necessities. Property stratification is increased on a national basis. The struggle to compete for jobs, land and trade has been aggravated and that creates preconditions for international conflicts'. 14

From the Resolution T 222 by Head of Administration of the Region 'Concerning measures for increasing control of migratory processes in the territory of the Krasnodar region': 'Krasnodar region is one that experiences a redundant migratory pressure... A significant part of the migrants have not got the citizenship of the Russian Federation and arrive from the Soviet States of the 'Near Abroad'... This multinational migratory influx creates a serious threat to social and political stability in the region, the prices of property rise at an exceptional rate, property stratification increases on the national basis and the ground is being created for international conflicts'.15

At the other end there is the rhetoric of radically nationalistic organisations. The armies of the Caucasian and Transcaucasian 'refugees', criminal elements, leaders of the 'shadow' economies, traders and profiteers are flowing incessantly into the district... They behave in a pushing, insolent way, insulting and terrorising native residents... They establish all kinds of diasporas, societies, communities, un-ions, endeavour to suggest to the native residents that they are alien and that Armenians, Turks, etc. are the indigenous population of the Kuban.

With the connivance of the leadership of the city and district alike, and the legislative bodies, a mass registration of individuals from foreign countries is being carried out, our resources are being sold - lands, industrial and residential buildings, restaurants, cultural centres and other property. Due to this, the Slav population of the region has been brought down to a state of slavery, deprived of property, called on to serve the newly arrived 'hosts'.16 From the programme of the whole Kuban - Cossack troops at the elections to the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnodar Region (October - November 1994): 'It is exactly the anti-people, anti-Russian policy of the present leadership of the country that has turned Russians into an extinct nation. There is a real threat that in the near future the Slav population of Russia and the Kuban may become an ethnic minority...

The Kuban is a region of 100 peoples that have always lived in agreement, peace and friendship. It has always been a hospitable house but the guests should not become the hosts. We are for a strict migratory policy. All migrants that live illegally on the Kuban territory should be returned to their historic native land'.17 All public, official and unofficial opinions on problems of migration in the Krasnodar region may be summarised as following:

  1. External migration, especially the migration of the 'individuals of non-Slavic nationalities' is undoubtedly evil, as it causes a worsening of the socio-economic situation, increases pressure on the social infrastructure and local budget, decreases supplies of food and consumer goods and aggravates competition for accommoda-tion and jobs.

  2. Migrants are undesired and even harmful elements. They use the re-sources which rightfully belong to the native residents plus, it may be said they mostly contribute to an increasing criminality: refugees either commit crimes them-selves or establish 'supporting bases' for the transportation of arms and trafficking of drugs and for the activity of criminals ethnically related to them 'on tour', who are hiding after having committed crimes in the Kuban, in the sovereign 'near abroad'.

  3. Migration destabilises the political situation: the increase in 'foreigners' ag-gravates the dissatisfaction of the native residents and provokes conflicts. Besides, there is a chance of a clash between groups of refugees of different ethnic origins (e.g. between Armenians and Turks).

  4. In terms of the above mentioned considerations the authorities are obliged to take prohibitive and repressive measures impeding the arrival of new migrants into the region and instigating the departure at least of those who have had enough time to settle.

It should be noted that representatives of the administration and local mass media while giving voice to the above mentioned thesis distort or conceal facts, as well as trying some other methods of manipulation.

First of all, it is groundless to talk about the extreme overpopulation of the region causing supply problems for the inhabitants. According to some estimates as mentioned above, due to the migratory influx of the past years, the average density could increase to 69 people per square kilometre. But for comparison the same index in Ukraine amounts to 86 (in Crimea - 111), in Turkey - 76, in France - 101, in Great Britain - 230 people per square kilometre. It should be born in mind as well that Krasnodar Region is mostly an area of plains, most of which is very apt for settlement and economic management. The shortage of jobs caused by the reduction in manufacturing is a common problem for practically all the regions in Russia and the Krasnodar Region in this context is hardly in a worse state. The key point concerns rather attitudes towards the migrants as well as towards the crowds of dependants living on the budget as parasites unable to provide themselves independently with accommodation and jobs. The flow of migrants influenced the provision of the population with food and consumer goods in the period of rationing, but after transferring onto the marketing relations this problem was solved. Furthermore, many refugees, who go in for trade, promote a better provision of the districts they live in. The fact that practically all the families of refugees in 1989-91 could obtain property residences from the people who were striving to leave the region (including Crimean Tatars and Greeks) is not indicative of the deficit of accommodation in the rural area.

Secondly, official statistical data do not confirm the marked criminality of the refugees and generally of the people who are arriving. According to the information of the Administration of Internal Affairs of the region signed by V.D. Lanovoy, the Head of Department of international relations of the militia of public security, during 8 months in 1994 (January - August) 30,697 crimes were committed - 26,587 (86.6 per cent) by Russians, 1,464 (4.8 per cent) by Armenians, 28 (0,09 percent) by Turks. Out of the whole number 2,306 (7.5 per cent) crimes were committed by non-residents of the region, 1,175 (51 per cent of this number) by Russians. During 8 months in 1994 32,473 crimes were investigated - 28,363 (87.3 per cent) of which were committed by Russians, 1,527 (4.7 per cent) by Armenians, 23 (0,071 per cent) by Turks. Out of the whole number of investigated crimes 2,069 (6.3 per cent) were committed by newcomers, 556 (46.2 per cent) of them by Russians.18

Thirdly, absolutely different concepts like 'migrants permanently living in the region', 'people by birth from other districts that are located on the territory of the region' and 'foreign ethnic elements' - are being constantly replaced one after an-other. 'And so, 26,000 people had been registered with us ( by hook or by crook) in 3 specific months! ( in the last quarter of 1993 - A.O). ...Elementary arithmetic shows: at this pace in 10 years time the population of our region will be replenished by 1 million strangers' (from the interview with M. V. Savva, Head of Department of nationalities and migratory matters of the Administration of the Region.19 People are being informed about the numbers coming into the region or about those who get registration instead of the balance of migration.

It is only very rarely that the fact that the migratory influx is mainly provided by migrants from other Russian regions is publicly announced. Also, as a rule, nobody mentions that internal migration on the whole does not influence the ethnic proportions of the population of the region: representatives of the 'Russian speaking population' (mainly the Slavs) make up more than 87 per cent of all migrants from the 'near abroad' and Russians make up 83 per cent of the whole number of people who obtained permanent registration in the region (Armenians - 5.5 percent) in 1994. 20

The same proportions were recorded in 1995; in the first quarter 25 331 people got the registration, among whom 83 per cent were Russians (eastern Slavs - 88.8 per cent), Armenians - 5.1 per cent, Azeris - 0.3 per cent.21 For comparison - in 1993 114,170 people were registered in the region and 88 per cent of them were Russians; 5 per cent - Armenians.22 Reports of the half a million or a million strong 'tidal wave' of uncontrolled, illegal migration from the Transcaucasus are groundless. While referring to the number of infringers of the migratory regime revealed by the militia (A. G. Saprunov, Head of the Administration of Internal Affairs of the region, informed about 60 thousand in-fringers revealed from April to November, 1994 out of which 3.5 thousand were deported from the region)23 , there is no mention of the number of people who have arrived in the region for a short visit without invitations, not obtaining certificates of temporary registration, while this very category should be considered the majority.

No clashes between migrants of different ethnic origin have been registered in the region. Gatherings of residents demanding the deportation of the 'foreigners' took place only from 1990 to the beginning of 1992 and these were not widespread. Fourthly, the circumstance was ignored that a significant number of refugees from the 'near abroad' against whom repressive measures were taken, are the people who arrived in the region before the dismantling of the USSR without breaking the legal norms that existed in those times and who have lived in the region for several years, acquired houses and other property, not having a real chance to move to any other region. Several rhetorical figures are worth mentioning. They are used by the representatives of the administration and by public officials during debates on the problems of migration.

First of all there is a reference to the special state of the region and the extraordinary conditions ('overpopulation', 'frontier state', 'closeness to the regions of national conflicts' and even 'strategic state of emergency'), which serve as if as a basis for a special status and special 'rights' for the region allowing exemptions from federal legislation.24 From the interview with N.D. Egorov (at that time -Head of Administration of the region and the candidate to the Council of the Federation of the Russian Federation): '... migration still remains one of the key social problems... Although according to the law we cannot prohibit them (the refugees) from coming to our territory, nevertheless we do it, we prohibit and even deportthem. These measures are forced; if we do not do it, the standard of living of the permanent population of the Kuban will sharply decrease'.25

Appeals to the Federal centre are closely linked with such positions and publicly announced most frequently not by representatives of the administration but by the activists of nationalist organisations: the centre carries out a mistaken (radically disposed officials call it 'anti-people') policy, which ignores the specific character and 'rights' of the regions and thus compels the regions to take defensive measures. Variations are possible - the centre is also frequently blamed for inactivity and unwillingness to solve the burning questions of the day (e. g. to establish borders with the countries of the CIS), forcing the regional authorities to solve the problem on their own; on the other hand, refusal by the regional authorities to resolve local problems (e.g. denying registration to the refugees of the Soviet period, namely, the Turks) is motivated by the fact that such questions should be discussed by the central authorities. The usual justification, with reference to 'the opinion of the people', made by many representatives of the authorities is that they personally have nothing against the Armenians, Kurds or Turks, but if their residence in the region is legalised it will cause no less than a rebellion of the local population.

With the assistance of M.V. Savva, when he was the official responsible for nationality and migration questions of the administration of the region, as well as of some other officials, a scientific-like argument about the 'critical share' of the 'foreign migrants' as 15 per cent as if experimentally calculated by some English scientists has been introduced into circulation. After exceeding it the permanent population starts to demonstrate animosity towards the newcomers.26 '... In world practice a leap over 15 percent of refugees and forced settlers means the beginning of negative social and political consequences'. 27

This thesis was supported and widely used by the officials of the regional and district levels in a slightly different modification allowing them to talk about an immediate, acute threat to political stability and at the same time free themselves from responsibility for whatever is happening referring to 'objective conformity with a law'. It has already been discussed that exceeding the 'critical share' of the 'foreigners' over 15 percent will bring about a social explosion, plus there are no exact data as to who should be considered as 'foreigners' - all the migrants of specific ethnic origin or within which territorial framework registration it should be carried out (populated area, district, the whole region?) Representatives of the administration also actively make use of the law and or-der rhetoric which implies that the arrival of migrants which threatens destabilisation and increases pressure on the social infrastructure, means 'violation of the rights of the residents of the region'.28

It is worth mentioning that the notorious 'registration of the opinion of the people' rings with the strategy of conceding and even encouraging that is carried out by regional authorities towards radical and nationalistic organisations, first and foremost towards the Cossacks. The most sincere and sharp announcements on national problems and migratory matters are made by the Cossack leaders and activ-ists but these announcements are welcomed by the press as well as by the airtime of the official mass media. Namely, such materials often appear in the pages of 'The Kuban News' - the body of the regional Council till February, 1994 and after that an independent newspaper actually retaining semi-official status and close to the regional administration.29

The motive of necessity for guarding the 'ethnic purity' of the region and resistance to the 'Caucasian colonisation' often appears in the discourse of representatives of the administration and of public societies (especially the Cossacks). In some cases such opinions are expressed evasively - the priority of the 'interests of the natives' is discussed independently from nationality as well as the threat to them from the side of 'non-controllable migration'.30 In some cases the motives for rejection of the refugees acquire a blatantly racist character. Claims that the local Slavic population is afraid to be turned into a national minority in the Kuban due to the influx of the 'Caucasian people', constantly advanced by the Cossack activists, are sometimes heard from the officials as well.

A person carrying out the duties of the regional migratory service whose request was to remain incognito, during an interview in July, 1995 rather frankly said that the main objective of mi-gration politics is 'to stop the wave of migrants of Caucasian origin' - Why? - '...In the region there are more than 1 million migrants. If it (migration) continues at such a rate in 30 years' time Russians may become an ethnic minority'. By such discourse not only prohibitive and repressive measures are justified but also the ethnic preferences in registration matters as well.


To what extent is the situation specific to the Krasnodar region? A similar anti-migratory policy is being carried out in many other Russian regions including Rostov District, Stavropol Region, Moscow and Saint Petersburg. A similar ideological motivation and similar administrative devices exist in the activities of not only the regional authorities in many parts of the Russian Federation, but of federal government as well. Despite many differences in detail the migratory policy of the Krasnodar leadership reflects the general tendencies of state building and political development in modern Russia, and therefore with the usual stipulations can be examined as a model for the other territories and in other situations.

  1. On the regional level as well as on that of the federal authorities the notion about migration from outside, no doubt, dominates (first of all about migration from outside the borders of the Russian Federation ) not as the source and stimulus for development, but as a negative event which is a burden for the budget and for the economy as a whole. On top of this, since Soviet times the viewpoint about the necessity of administrative (and not economic) management of the migratory process has not changed and it is incompatible with the right of people to freely choose their place of residence. From these two purposes concerning the necessity of restricting the migration from outside (first of all the migration from the ex-Soviet Republics) by restrictive, prohibitive and repressive measures (including retaining this or that type of institution of permitted registration, assuming the creation of maximum unfavourable settlement conditions for migrants). This approach consequently is embodied in practice, and through unlawful means too.

  2. The policy towards immigration from the ex-Soviet republics most vividly and obviously reflects the growing state nationalism and ethnocentrism - declaration by the authorities of mainly the states of so - called 'ethnic Russians' (in the first place Russians, and in the republics of the Russian Federation - the so-called 'titular' nationalities) and practical measures for its consolidation. Federal and regional migratory policy is partly directed at providing a definite, high level of ethnic homogeneity of the population by means of creating 'ethnic filters' for migrants with the assistance of undeclared discriminatory practice as well as in the first attempts of carrying out 'mild ethnic cleansing'. (e.g. purposeful pressure on the Meskhetian-Turks in the Krasnodar region with the aim of compelling them to leave the Kuban). The legal nihilism of regional as well as federal authorities can clearly be seen.

  3. In the migratory policy - neglecting human rights as well as existing legislation and the country's international commitments in the name of administrative purpose.

  4. Migratory policy serves as a good illustration of the notorious process of 'federalisation' of Russia - the extension of the rights and opportunities of regional heads with the simultaneous diffusion of responsibility from the 'centre', as well as from the leaders of the subjects of the federation.

  5. Regional populism is connected with the 'federalisation'. The leaders of subjects of the federation strive to provide themselves with a base of legitimacy by means of appealing to such categories as 'regional interests', presenting themselves as the protectors and mouthpiece against the 'centre'. Regional populism includes the instigation of public opinion against the migrants (especially those of foreign ethnicity) as the source of social and economic difficulties. The other side of the coin of regional populism is the appeal to 'the will of people' and to 'regional interests' as the justification for the necessity of ignoring the federal legislation and international commitments of the Russian Federation.


* Alexander Ossipov is a Fellow of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

  1. Kirianov I. 'The Kuban will give warmth, food and... say farewell', Komsomolskaya
  2. The Krasnodar Krai. Administrative and Territorial Division, Krasnodar, 1988, p. 6; National Composition of the Population of the USSR, Moscow, 1991, pp. 42, 50.
  3. According to the data given by the administration on matters of nationalities, migration and regional policy of the administration of the region.
  4. National Composition of the Population of the USSR, pp. 42, 50.
  5. The Kuban News, 20 August 1992.
  6. 'The Network of Ethnological Monitoring and Early Prevention of Conflicts', Bulletin, Vol. 6, August 1995, p. 52.
  7. According to the data given by the administration on matters of nationalities, migration and regional policy of the administration of the region.
  8. 'The Network of Ethnological Monitoring and Early Prevention of Conflicts', Bulletin,
  9. 3 October 1994. The auther has a copy of this text.
  10. Soviet Kuban, 14 September 1989.
  11. The Kuban News, 20 August 1992.
  12. The Kuban News, 6 July 1995.
  13. The Network of Ethnological Monitoring and Early Prevention of Conflicts', Bulletin, Vol. 6, August 1995, p. 18; Bulletin, Vol. 7, November 1995, p. 15.
  14. The Kuban News, 27 April 1992.
  15. The Kuban News, 29 April 1994.
  16. From 'The Address to the Citizens of the Region', taken at the gathering of Cossacks of the Crimean municipal Cossack Circle on 28 January 1994, quotation according to the text of the leaflet.
  17. Quotation according to the text of the leaflet.
  18. The author has a copy of this text.
  19. 'To Hold Out Till the End of the Night', The Kuban News, 31 April 1994.
  20. 'The Network of Ethnological Monitoring and Early Prevention of Conflicts', Bulletin, Vol. 6, August 1995, p. 52-53.
  21. According to the data of the administration on matters of nationalities, migration and regional policy of the administration of the region.
  22. 'The Network of the Ethnological Monitoring and Early Prevention of Conflicts', Bulletin, Vol. 3, July - September 1994, p. 21
  23. The Kuban News, 19 November 1994.
  24. Savva M. 'To Defend Legal Rights of the Region', The Kuban News, 25 September
  25. 'We Should Stay a Stable Region', The Kuban News, 10 December 1993.
  26. 'To Hold Out Till the End of the Night', The Kuban News, 31March 1994.
  27. From the interview with V. Polevoi, The Head of International and Analytical Subdivision of the Administration of the Federal Service of Counter Intelligence of the Krasnodar region. The Kuban News, 22 March 1994.
  28. See the Preamble of the Regional Law 'On the Regulation of Registration of Residence and Stay on the Territory of the Krasnodar Region', The Kuban News, 6 July 1995; Interview with V. Ostrozhny, 30 November 1995.
  29. See The Kuban News, 20 August 1993, 4 March 1994, 17 November 1994, 18 November 1994.
  30. Savva M., 'To Defend Legal Rights of the Region', The Kuban News, 25 September 1993; 'To Hold Out Till the End of the Night', The Kuban news, 31 March 1994.

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