Friday, January 27, 2012

Russian Border Control

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has caused a lot of controversy since an article of his was recently published in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Putin has taken it upon himself to discuss two issues that have been plaguing the Russian people since the collapse of the Soviet Union: New Russian Identity and Migration. On the new Russian identity, Putin stated that Russia is not a modernized version of the Soviet Union, but it’s own, new country. And that drastic changes, such as the collapse of the Union, have not defeated Russia, that it remains, due to the will of its people. Now, there are two identities becoming rooted in the modern Russian people. The first are the Rossiyanin, or citizens of Russia that are members of the multiethnic Russian civic nation, and Russkyis, who are ethnic Russians. Russkyis make up about 80% of the population, but immigration is constant and Russia has the second highest migration rate in the world, next to the US. These migrants are mostly from the North Caucasus and Central European countries that have long been tied to Russia, many of which were once a part of the Soviet Union. There are many ethnic Russian nationalists who are calling for the borders to be closed off to these countries. They believe that closing the borders to these countries will help solve all of their economic and political problems, placing the blame of the many Muslims that migrate from these regions. There is a rapidly growing hatred toward these non-ethnic Russians and Muslims. They are blamed with stealing the jobs of native-ethnic Russians and importing the crime and poverty from their old countries. Sound familiar? Putin has stated that he would like to limit any further illegal immigration by putting more responsibility on police and improving the living conditions of the poor areas of Russia and neighboring states. With this escalating tension between race and religion, it is almost inevitable before hate crimes become prominent in daily Russian headlines, if they are not already.

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