RUSSIAN MAJORITY PREJUDICED AGAINST IMMIGRANTS, SHOWS OPINION POLL

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MOSCOW, May 24 (RIA Novosti) - A mere 20 per cent of Russians think this country has economic benefits with immigration. 38 per cent are of a contrasting opinion. The figures came up in an opinion poll the VTsIOM, All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center, made quite recently.

Another question concerned demographic benefits. It offered an even more crying gap-46 per cent were skeptical, and only 19 per cent approving. An approximately similar proportion-17 and 43 per cent-came up in response to a premise on immigration making Russia more open to new ideas and foreign cultures. A spectacular 63 per cent said immigration was sending up Russian crime and graft rate.

Quite the contrary figures are coming from Great Britain. Here, 45 per cent said immigration was promoting economic progress, as against 35 per cent of respondents of the contrary opinion. 68 per cent find immigration moving their country to accept new ideas and foreign cultures, as against 22 per cent of opponents. A mere 33 per cent blamed rising crime on immigrants, while 47 per cent objected to the point.

No less than a half of the Russian respondents highlighted immigrants' twofold impact on the labor market. A national average 50 per cent said immigrants were helping to put an end to a shortage of hands employed in low-paid and unqualified jobs. The percentage was even more spectacular in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia's largest cities-88 in either. There was a contrasting opinion, too-that immigrants come as residents' rivals in the labor market. Here, the national average was 60 per cent, with 82 per cent for Moscow and St. Petersburg.

40 per cent of Russian respondents were calling to toughen immigration laws, while a mere 14 per cent said they demanded mitigation, with an emphasis on simplifying nonresident registration formalities. 17 per cent said the laws were good, and needed no amendments at all.

Here, too, the UK offered a contrast, with 58 per cent demanding to toughen immigration laws, and only 8 per cent to mollify them.

69 per cent of Russians think the immigration of ethnic Russians and Russian-language speakers must be encouraged, and of other people limited. 57 per cent call to encourage young and educated immigrants, and keep the country barred to seniors and people with no adequate education.

The poll, of April 23-24, 2005, involved 1,600 respondents resident in a hundred urban and rural settlements in forty constituent entities-regions, territories and republics of the Russian Federation. The statistical error held within 3.4 per cent.

The analogous poll in Britain was made on contract with two prominent newspapers-The Observer and The Sunday Mirror. The MORI public opinion study company made it, April 7-9, 2005,by way of telephone interviews, with 1,004 respondents in all parts of the country.

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