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    IMO READY TO HELP AS RUSSIAN ILLEGAL EMIGRANTS GET HOME

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    MOSCOW, JANUARY 30 (RIA Novosti correspondent Alexander Bratersky) - The International Migration Organisation, or IMO, is willing to assist Russia on a programme for illegal migrant voluntary return, reassures Branson McKinley, IMO president, who is on a maiden official visit to Russia. Novosti interviewed Mr. McKinley the day before his visit finishes.

    The IMO views voluntary return as a welcome alternative to expulsion. A related programme is great success in several European countries. The organisation has helped close on 500,000 illegal emigrants from a hundred countries within the preceding five years, and Russia would do well to emulate, remarked Branson McKinley.

    The IMO provides migrants with air tickets, visas, and readjustment grants on monetary donations from countries active on the programme. Our interviewee highlighted the importance of convincing illegal migrants that voluntary return is preferable to expulsion, morally and legally alike.

    Russia is currently hosting more than a million and a half illegal immigrants, mostly from other post-Soviet countries, reports the Federal Migration Service.

    Russia has an observer's status on the International Migration Organisation since 1992. The IMO presently has a total 102 member countries, and 29 observers.

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