MOSCOW, October 30 (RIA Novosti) – “Why are you arresting me?” “Isn’t it just easier to give money to the policeman?” “What do you do if the police beat you?”
Practice conversations in a special Russian language-learning textbook – handed out at an experimental new cultural integration center for migrants – focus on topics considered most relevant to guest workers in Russia, the center’s employees said.
At the Center for Adaptation of Migrant Workers, which opened in the town of Tambov southeast of Moscow in early September, guest laborers study Russian as part of a federally sponsored program to help them integrate into the local culture.
Studying topics that are close to migrants’ real lives help them learn Russian faster, said teachers at the organization, which is sponsored by Russia’s Federal Migration Service.
The Russian-language textbook contains practice conversations about obtaining a work permit, sending money abroad, and interacting with police – including, somewhat controversially, a “typical” situation in which a migrant is detained for not having registration.
“Will it take long?” a fictional migrant asks an officer who says he’s taking the migrant to a police station.
“We’ll see. About three hours. Get in the car,” the officer answers.
The book is reminiscent of another advice manual for migrant laborers that drew accusations of bigotry and racism in St. Petersburg last year, in part because it depicted Central Asians as illustrated construction tools.
The relationship between Russian citizens and migrant laborers has undergone heightened tension recently, as violent nationalist riots rocked the capital and police have implemented a massive crackdown on illegal migration.
While popular sentiment remains staunchly hostile to large-scale migration, the government is acutely aware that migrant labor is vital to the economy. With the country facing a demographic crisis, the number of working-age Russians is falling rapidly.