Immigrants face Russian proficiency test
Deputy head of Russia’ Federal Migration Service Yekaterina Yegorova is expected to make a press statement today on introducing a Russian language test for immigrants.
The idea has been debated for a long time. Analysts, however, doubt this project will help immigrants assimilate. If anything, it will open up new loopholes for corruption.
Foreigners arriving to work in Russia are required to obtain a work permit, for which they are charged 15,000-30,000 rubles ($500-$1,000), and register with the local migration authority. The plan is to make a Russian proficiency test compulsory for those applying for jobs in the housing and utilities service, FMS chief Konstantin Romodanovsky said last month.
Analysts believe immigration from the CIS will continue whatever FMS invents. Average monthly salaries in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are below $150, while in Russia, even unqualified workers can earn $300-$400.
More than 1.5 million immigrants arrived in the Moscow Region in the past six months, according to Alexei Malashenko from the Carnegie Moscow Center. “The FMS would need enormous resources to test their proficiency in Russian, which it does not have.” At this stage, the authority does not even have enough resources to answer the phones. A correspondent tried to reach it for several hours with no success. There was no response to an emailed inquiry either.
Many ethnic minorities in Russia have their own commercial recruiting organizations, analysts said. The immigrants arriving in Russia virtually become slaves, albeit voluntarily. Most analysts agreed that anyone arriving to work in a country must speak the local language. But it is impossible to force people to learn it.
Khursheda Khamrakulova, council head of the Tajik Cultural Center regional public association, approved the idea of introducing Russian tests. “Russian is being taught across Tajikistan, and most people speak it,” she said.
Alidzhan Khaidarov, who heads the UMID ethnic Uzbek society, also thinks the FMS initiative is reasonable, although he is concerned that the testing business will become commercial and people will have to buy credits as is often the case with the work permits. Fluency in Russian is a problem in Uzbekistan; only those born before 1974 have learned it, he added. He suggested the FMS cancel the work permits instead because this practice has generated a huge and corrupt market.
Representatives of the Kyrgyz diaspora reacted to the Russian testing plans calmly. “We always urge people to study Russian back home and here in Russia,” said Alisher Madanbekov, head of the interregional movement of Kyrgyz immigrants.
It is unclear who will test the immigrants and what criteria they will use, Malashenko said, adding that free Russian courses are a better option.
The FMS initiative brings to mind the recent riots in the UK, France and Australia, in which immigrants were actively involved. However, Malashenko does not believe this could happen in Russia: “They come here to make money so they just don’t have the time to join riots.”
Crashed An-12 was the oldest commercial aircraft in Russia
Rescuers yesterday found the wreckage of the An-12A cargo aircraft that disappeared from radar screens in the Magadan Region Tuesday. The 11 people aboard were all killed. A technical fault and a pilot error were cited as causes of the disaster.
Russia's Federal Service for Supervision of Transport decided yesterday to suspend all An-12 flights, requiring the six airlines operating An-12s to reduce the technical risks in their operation. The crashed aircraft was the oldest commercial aircraft in Russia – it had been in service for over 48 years.
The An-12A crashed in a mountainous area southwest of Omsukchan. Emergency Ministry rescuers were the first to arrive at the crash site. Yekaterina Potvorova, spokeswoman for the Emergency Ministry's Far Eastern Regional Center, said yesterday that the aircraft was discovered by a Federal Air Transport Agency helicopter 82 km from Omsukchan. There were no survivors, and rescue workers have already recovered several bodies.
The AN-12A had 11 people on board: six crew members, an airline representative monitoring their work, two aircraft technicians and two Chukotka residents accompanying the cargo, which consisted of 17.5 tons of food. The plane was on a commercial flight from Komsomolsk-on-Amur to the Chukotka village Keperveyem.
At 6:37 a.m. on Tuesday, the plane departed from Magadan after refueling, and at 7:24 a.m. the pilot told the controllers that there was a fuel leak in one of its four engines prompting the need for an emergency landing in Magadan. At 7:28 a.m. the pilot reported a burning engine and at 7:34 the plane disappeared from the radar.
The Federal Air Transport Agency found one of the plane's black boxes. Parts of the fuselage were scattered over an area spanning two kilometers, indicating that the impact speed was very high. Officials said that the pilots had practically no chance of survival since there was no suitable landing site in the mountainous terrain.
The Far Eastern Transport Investigation Department has filed a criminal case under the article on violation of safety regulations.
“There will be an assessment of the aircraft’s technical condition and pre-flight preparation,” said Natalia Salkina, a spokeswoman for the department. “Investigators will also carefully examine all scenarios and analyze the actions of crew members.” Salkina added that a special commission of the International Aviation Committee will assist the investigators.
Viktor Ishayev, the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, said yesterday at a press conference in Khabarovsk that the crashed An-12A had been in poor condition.
“Our fleet should be updated, but besides having old planes in service, they are poorly serviced and often have uncertified components,” said Ishayev, subsequently proposing to establish a major airline in the Far East.
Ishayev's deputy Vladimir Pysin said that the Avis Amur airline, which leased the crashed An-12, most likely serviced it poorly.
“The airline is small and the plane was leased, so they squeezed everything they could out of it,” he said.
TNK-BP minority shareholders sue BP for $3 billion
The minority shareholders of TNK-BP Holding, the listed subsidiary of TNK-BP Ltd. which is parity owned by British Petroleum and AAR, have filed a lawsuit against BP for the profit shortfall they sustained due the collapse of the deal to form a strategic alliance between BP and the Russian state oil company Rosneft.
Andrei Prokhorov and several other minority shareholders of the Russian-British company have filed a claim with the arbitration court of the Tyumen Region, West Siberia, seeking 87.112 billion rubles (approximately $3 billion) in damages from BP and from Peter Anthony Cherow and Richard Scott Sloan, who until recently served as board members of TNK-BP Holding.
The shareholders claim that the two executives should have notified TNK-BP of the possibility of joining the deal with Rosneft, Prokhorov’s lawyers from the Liniya Prava law firm say.
The first hearing on the case against Cherow and Sloan is set for October 12, 2011. The case against BP plc and its subsidiary, BP Russian Investments Limited, a shareholder in TNK-BP Limited, will be heard on September 21, 2011.
TNK-BP and BP have declined to comment.
In January 2011, BP and Rosneft agreed to exchange assets and to jointly develop rich hydrocarbon deposits on the Russian Arctic coast. The agreement was dubbed “the deal of the year.” The talks were supervised by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin.
The Russian owners of TNK-BP, the AAR consortium of Alfa Group, Access Industries and Renova, protested the deal, which was subsequently terminated in May.
Experts say the minority shareholders’ chances of receiving compensation are very small.
“There was definitely a conflict of interests among the executives in this case, but it is very difficult to win a profit shortfall case in Russia,” Yury Sbitnev, a lawyer at Vegas Lex, said. “One can hope to be awarded damages only if it can be proved that a certain sum has not reached a correspondent account.”
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