MOSCOW, December 17 (RIA Novosti) – The number of people barred from entering Russia increased six-fold this year compared to 2012, the head of the Federal Migration Service said Monday.
“In 2013, 427,000 people were denied entry into Russia,” Konstantin Romodanovsky said.
Just over half of those refused entry were aged between 17 and 25 with a poor knowledge of the Russian language and who had difficulty assimilating into Russian society, he said.
Romodanovsky told the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, that 3.6 million foreigners in the country had overstayed their visas and were probably working illegally.
The authorities have launched a crackdown on illegal migrants in the past two months in response to growing racial tensions over the issue in Moscow. More than 1,000 police were called out to deal with an anti-migrant riot that broke out in the southern Moscow suburb of Biryulyovo in October after a Russian man was fatally stabbed, allegedly by an Azerbaijani migrant.
Police have since arrested thousands of migrants in raids on local markets and apartment blocks. The violence led to the dismissal of several senior officials, including Alexander Podolny, the police chief of Moscow’s southern district.
President Vladimir Putin responded to the unrest by signing a law that makes local authorities responsible for reducing ethnic tensions.
He warned last year that rising Russian nationalism posed a threat to the country’s future. Attempts to establish a mono-ethnic Russian state would be “the shortest path to both the destruction of the Russian people and Russia’s sovereignty.”