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Moscow delegation seeks to recruit Armenian workers

MOSCOW, May 21 (RIA Novosti) - A delegation from Moscow will arrive in Armenia for a six-day visit on Thursday to encourage Armenians to work in the Russian capital as part of a pilot project to boost Russia's migrant workforce.

Last April Russia toughened its migration policy, banning migrants from working in retail markets. According to various estimates, around 20,000 non-Russians were employed in Moscow markets alone prior to the ban.

"If we do not switch to organized labor recruitment on the territories of the donor countries, the labor market in Moscow will continue to be spontaneous and poorly regulated," said Olga Veldina, a spokeswoman for the Moscow committee for interregional links and national policy.

The Moscow city government has launched similar projects to attract foreign workers from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, mainly in construction, while another Central Asian country, Uzbekistan is prepared to follow suit.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia, particularly Moscow, saw a strong inflow of migrant workers. Many of them stayed in the country illegally because official registration processes are too complicated and time-consuming.

Nearly 1 million foreign workers were officially registered in Moscow in 2007 with a total population of 10.4 million.

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