"Russia is interested in attracting workers and experts from abroad, and we will consistently develop civilized relations in the labor migration field," Vladimir Putin told United Russia.
The president called for the labor migration environment to be improved to attract foreigners to the country suffering an increasing demand for workforce.
United Russia is the country's best-represented party with 2,555 branches nationwide and 999,546 members (as of March 6, 2006). The party dominates the State Duma, parliament's lower house, many regional legislatures, and claims many governors as members.
In his speech, Putin highlighted the issue of social and cultural adaptation of foreign employees in Russia, whose healthy integration in society can root out the problem of interethnic and religious conflicts.
The problem came into the spotlight after the murder of two Russians in an interethnic brawl in the northwestern town of Kondopoga sparked a wave of racial violence in early September. The local community accused authorities of failing to protect them or safeguard their interests, and of taking bribes from criminal immigrant groups.
Putin said the number of illegal migrants in Russia may have reached 15 million. "According to current information, only 500,000 out of 10 million foreigners working [in Russia] are [officially] registered," the president said adding that their number is likely to have been understated.
Putin hailed amendments to migration laws initiated by the party. "They simplify the registration of immigrants, on the one hand, and envisage tough sanctions for illegal activity, on the other," he said.
Putin backed party leader Boris Gryzlov's idea to hold a meeting between different parties on the problems of extremism. He spoke out against using any extremism-provoking elements in political campaigns.
The Duma approved a bill this week on setting up four gambling zones to tackle the rise in gambling outlets throughout the country. The president proposed the new law after the Interior Ministry launched an operation to check the financial, tax and sanitary-epidemiological documents of a variety of gambling establishments in the capital allegedly linked to the Georgian mafia.
Putin warned United Russia leaders of possible attempts to lobby for increasing the number of gaming zones. "I am calling on United Russia not to concede to such lobbying," he said.
United Russia won a landslide victory in the 2003 parliamentary elections gaining 37% of the popular vote.