The drop in international travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly reduced the number of migrant workers coming to Russia, meaning the country is now struggling to implement its extensive plans for development.
That’s according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who was responding on Thursday to a question regarding recent data presented by Kremlin Deputy Chief of Staff Magomedsalam Magomedov, which revealed that almost a quarter of Russians have a negative opinion of migrants.
“To be honest, I haven’t heard of this sociological research about the Russian attitude to immigrants,” Peskov said. “I can only state the reality that there have been very few migrants in our country over the past year, and we really, really lack these migrants for the implementation of ambitious plans.”
Prior to the pandemic, Russian companies employed millions of foreign workers in mainly low-skilled and low-wage jobs. Most of the employees come from former Soviet republics, such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine. In December last year, it was reported that Russia has lost around five million foreigners since the start of the Covid-19 crisis. The numbers have dropped to approximately 6.3 million.
In particular, Peskov noted that Russia needed help in construction and agriculture – two sectors employing a large number of migrant workers.
“We need to build more than we are building now,” the spokesman said. “But we need workers for that. There are fewer of them because of the pandemic.”
Last month, President Vladimir Putin stated that the quotas in Russian schools needed to be monitored to prevent them becoming entirely attended by the children of foreigners. The proportion of migrants in schools should be restricted to encourage them to adapt to the Russian linguistic and cultural environment, he said.
Peskov supported Putin’s statement, noting that Russia should help migrants adjust to a “multi-ethnic, multi-confessional society.”
In February, Rafik Zagrutdinov, the head of Moscow’s city construction department, revealed that the capital has a shortage of 15 to 20,000 migrant workers.
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