The police have recently raided one Moscow market. The director of the market and the head of a sewing shop were charged with organization of illegal immigration. Source: Tatiana Kravtchenko / RG
Illegal immigration is one of the most debated issues on the threshold of the Moscow mayoral election scheduled for Sept. 8. Anatoly Yakunin, head of the Moscow Department of the Russian Ministry of Interior, now has the task of putting things in order: He was responsible for the implementation of the controversial initiative to house illegal immigrants in special camps, or so-called ghettos, on the outskirts of Moscow.
However, as RBC Daily learned, the activities of the Moscow Police are not limited to just a few raids of markets and construction sites, or to the transportation of illegal immigrants to these camps and their subsequent expulsion from the country.
“The current mechanisms used to combat illegal immigration, limited to the drawing up of administrative reports and the detention of persons, do not fully protect the interests of citizens. We have to change our tactics, focus on the implementation of legal actions — especially with regard to unscrupulous employers,” said the head of the Moscow Police at a meeting held a few days ago with top officials.
According to RBC Daily, police units have already issued to officers directives to find those people who employ illegal immigrants. “The raids will not stop, but the procedures carried out after the illegal immigrants are caught will be changed. Currently, the immigrant is first listed in the databases, then sent to a camp, and later deported; but, in the future, the focus will shift to finding out where the illegal immigrant worked, and a subsequent search for his or her employer,” said RBC Daily’s source in the capital city’s chief directorate.
Some illegal immigrants may even be released in return for providing assistance to law enforcement agencies. “It is clear that this will be informal, but such a reward system could work,” believe Moscow police.
The police have already achieved their first success in this new direction of their activities. Recently, officers from the Department of Internal Affairs of the Troitsky and Novomoskovsky districts raided Mezhdunarodniy Market. Following this raid, the director of the market, the sub-tenant of the sewing shop, and the head of this shop were charged with the organization of illegal immigration.
In this case, the suspects were not released on their own recognizance with restricted travel, as was previously done when dealing with this article of the law; instead, they were placed in a detention center.
Andrei Isaev, head of the Duma Labor and Social Policy Committee, supported the initiative of the Moscow Police in a letter to Komsomolskaya Pravda, in which he wrote about the need to “toughen measures against employers who use illegal labor.”
“We should be talking here about serious prison terms, and not just large, but ruinous administrative fines. However, it is important to distinguish between those who use illegal immigrants on an industrial scale, creating a slaveholding system in our economy, and ordinary citizens, who have chosen to use immigrants to work at their own cottages or gardens (these drastic measures will not apply to this category of people),” Isaev wrote, adding that the State Duma will start working on the relevant legislative changes.
Olga Kostina, chair of the Public Council under the Department of Internal Affairs of Moscow, said that the Ministry of Internal Affairs should not wait for parliamentarians, but independently develop draft legislation that would carry tougher penalties for employers.
“This unprecedented surge in the capture of immigrants, these new camps — all of this does not address the root cause, but rather the consequences. Detention and deportation of immigrants can be a never-ending and quite painful process,” said Kostina.
“It is necessary that people who are actually engaged in this slave trade be deprived of their businesses, at the very least, and, at maximum, of their freedom.”
Lawyers point out that the police will face difficulties when it comes to the evidential base. “Criminal liability is not just for hiring illegal immigrants, but for helping them cross the border, providing them with housing and other services — that is, for the full reception of foreign workers on a rotational work basis,” said Anton Alekseyev, senior lawyer at the Yakovlev & Partners Law Firm.
“It is rather problematic to document all of this,” Alekseyev said. However, if they manage to do this, Sergey Klimenko, a lawyer at the Khrenov and Partners Law Firm, says that such employers could face up to seven years of imprisonment and fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($16,700).
The business community has little confidence in the success of the police’s “special operation.”
“This is a one-sided mechanism. I do not believe that it will lead to the desired effect. We need clear rules of the game. Otherwise, all this will simply lead to increased corruption,” said Alexander Brechalov, head of the All-Russia Public Organization of Small and Medium Enterprises, “Support of Russia.”
“It is clear that we have many problems with immigrants,” said Brechalov. “However, we have introduced rules that are not applied in practice and are not effective — for example, the compulsory knowledge of the Russian language by immigrants, and so on.”
First published in Russian in RBC Daily.
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