FOREIGN WORKERS IN MOSCOW INCREASING

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MOSCOW, February 8 (RIA Novosti) - "An estimated 500,000-800,000 immigrants are in Moscow now. In 2004, our department issued 96,761 work permits to foreign workers," Vladimir Troitsky, chief of the Immigration Section of the Interior Ministry's Moscow Department, told the media Tuesday.

According to Mr. Troitsky, Chinese citizens are the most numerous among "far-abroad" immigrants. Official data set their number at about 22,000, with roughly 16,000 Vietnamese ranking second in Moscow, then Turks, numbering about 2,000. As far as CIS member-state citizens are concerned, Ukrainians are most numerous at almost 7,000, Moldavians number about 4,000, Armenians at about 2,000 and Tajiks at almost 2,500.

Mr. Troitsky said also that in 2004 his personnel issued immigrants with almost 1.5 times more work permits than in 2003.

"We expect the number of employers eager to register their foreign workforce to increase considerably because the administrative punishment for employing illegal aliens has become far more severe. Criminal responsibility for such breaches of law is also supposed to be introduced," Mr. Troitsky said.

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