MOSCOW, October 5 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Prime Minister warned Saturday of the dangers of letting “ethnic enclaves form especially in major cities” in Russia as both isolating communities and fuelling crime and xenophobia.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev made the comments during a speech at the ruling United Russia party conference on Saturday afternoon, and urged party members to help implement the “state adaptation program” to familiarize immigrants with the Russian language and culture.
His comments come in the wake of action targeting migrants across the country that the authorities have said is designed to identify those in breach of immigration regulations, and follows several high profile incidents of ethnicity-related violence.
United Nations figures released in September showed that Russia has the second largest population of immigrants – after the United States.
The immigration issue remains a problematic one for the Russian government.
Public opinion remains solidly anti-immigration: in a July poll by Russia’s VTsIOM, one third of respondents cited an “influx of other ethnicities” as the "likeliest threat to national security" (from a list of possible answers offered by the state-run pollster).
The government, however, is also aware that Russia’s shrinking labor force is putting pressure on business, with sectors like construction highly reliant on migrant workers.