Gérard Depardieu Gets Residence Permit in Mordovia
The French actor, who was recently granted Russian citizenship, will be registered in a new apartment building in Saransk, Mordovia.
A source in the Mordovian government confirmed that, according to Russian laws, Depardieu will get a residence permit. He will be registered in an apartment belonging to his long-time friend, Nikolai Borodachyov, Director of the National Film Fund. Depardieu does not own the apartment and will only be registered there with the owners’ consent, which has already been given.
The registration ceremony will take place at the Volga Center of the Finno-Ugric Peoples on February 23.
Yesterday Gérard Depardieu arrived in Moscow. He will stay for only one day though before traveling on to Saransk. Depardieu visited Mordovia in January, soon after he received his Russian passport. Head of the republic Vladimir Volkov suggested as a joke that the actor be appointed Mordovian Culture Minister. Depardieu replied that a lake house in a Mordovian village where he could stay and go fishing would be enough to make him happy. His wish will come true, but not in Mordovia. A big house is being built in the village of Belyye Stolby in the Moscow Region, where the National Film Fund is located.
Russian Government Still Unable to Control Immigrant Workers
The Federal Migration Service (FMS), which is unable to effectively locate illegal immigrants even in Moscow, is opposing plans to grant them an immigration amnesty, even if foreign workers pay all their taxes.
An Uzbek street cleaner who was harassed by juvenile hoodlums hurled a shovel handle at them in retaliation. This incident, which received widespread media coverage, led the FMS to locate 30 more illegal immigrants working as street cleaners in Moscow. The illegal Uzbek immigrant who threw the spade handle has already returned home. But the police say the hoodlum who attacked him may have been involved in other attacks on illegal immigrants.
Head of the FMS Konstantin Romodanovsky said it makes no sense to grant an immigration amnesty to illegal foreign immigrant workers. However, analysts note that such a move would help legalize large segments of the labor market. Illegal immigrants would be allowed to work legally and they would have to pay local taxes. Romodanovsky also denied that there were now 10 million foreigners working illegally in Russia.
In February 2008, Romodanovsky denied there were plans for a possible immigration amnesty. At that time, an ad hoc group was established in Moscow to provide legal support during the legalization process for foreign workers. Nevertheless, both they and their employers had to pay fines.
In December 2012, representatives of ethnic communities also advocated an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Romodanovsky was against, saying such amnesties would then have to be granted every five years. Romodanovsky believes that immigrants from CIS and non-CIS countries should respect Russian legislation. He thinks the idea for an amnesty is probably copied from foreign experiences. For instance, the US Government grants amnesties to illegal immigrants every 15 years.
Judging by official quotas, about 1.5 million immigrants currently work in Russia. Although some Russian regions have reduced the 2013 job quotas by more than half, the FMS believes that these quotas should be abolished completely, and that prospective foreign workers should be awarded points for their professional qualifications. Analysts say there are about 2 million immigrant workers in Moscow alone, with only 150,000 of them working legally.
Yevgeny Gontmakher, Head of the Social Policy Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Economics, called Romodanovsky’s stance “unduly harsh.” He said rigid job quotas were preventing many foreign workers from becoming legal. In his opinion, the amnesty concept is quite positive, but the amnesty should only be granted on a case by case basis.
Alexander Oskin, Chairman of the Press Distributors Association, said the proposal to grant amnesties to illegal immigrants was absurd and dangerous for the country. He said many illegal workers were currently linked with the criminal underworld and that legalizing their status would only aggravate the situation.
Lawyer Konstantin Trapaidze said the amnesty would not influence the illegal labor market and that simple but effective legalization measures were needed.
Asia Targets Russia’s Offshore Arctic Oil Projects
Dmitry Abzalov, Vice President of the Center for Strategic Communications
Chinese and South Korean oil companies met with Russia’s Rosneft last week to discuss possible partnerships on offshore Arctic projects, in a desperate bid to beat their big European and US rivals to the Earth’s last untapped oil-rich region.
Leading oil producers, including ExxonMobil, BP and Statoil, have come up with some highly lucrative proposals. Three years ago it would have been hard to imagine ExxonMobil voluntarily giving Rosneft access to its own market, especially to the most promising region of Alaska. But the high demand for Russian offshore projects is pushing foreign partners into expanding cooperation with Russian state companies. With production shrinking in conventional oil and gas provinces and growing instability in emerging markets such as Nigeria and Latin America, companies are seeking long-term and predictable formats of offshore cooperation elsewhere.
Russia has an obvious competitive advantage here: developed logistics, political support for the projects, long-term investment and a strong partner. In any case, the determination of foreign companies and fast reactions seem proof enough that Russia is an attractive partner for offshore cooperation. ExxonMobil signed a contract with Rosneft on the day the Russian company received its Arctic licenses.
The Arctic is the last untapped oil and gas-rich region. According to the Natural Resources Ministry’s estimates, the oil and gas condensate reserves in the Russian part of the continent alone will increase by 1 billion metric tons over the next 18 years. Rosneft can obviously count on cooperating on similar terms with other partners alongside ExxonMobil to develop the strategic region.
In fact, visits by Rosneft executives to China, South Korea and Japan last week centered on the same discussion. The visit was initiated by the Chinese side after they visited Moscow in December, when ExxonMobil was already close to signing the agreement with Rosneft. But Asian companies were not to be shut out of Russia’s offshore projects.
They are mainly interested in projects in the Arctic and offshore Kamchatka. South Korean companies are seeking to set up a joint cluster with Russia’s United Shipbuilding Company in the Far East, while Japanese companies are focusing on transport projects.
Foreign companies are interested in more than buying into Russian production projects. They want to join the construction of modern liquefaction plants and transport facilities as strategic partners. The leading Asian players have already shown interest in such partnerships, including Korean STX and KOGAS, Chinese CNPC, CNOOC and Sinopec, Japanese Marubeni, Inpex, Itochu, JAPEX and SODECO.
However, the recent activity of their Western rivals has left Asian companies little room for maneuver. They will have to improve their proposals or face the “window of possibility” in talks with Rosneft closing. The time of PSA projects has passed, and there might not be enough “entry tickets” into Russian offshore projects for everyone.
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