International Migration, Globalization and Demographic Development of the Russian Federation

International Migration, Globalization and Demographic Development of the Russian Federation
Author: Aleshkovski, Ivan A.
Journal: Journal of Globalization Studies. Volume 3, Number 1 / May 2012

In the article, the author analyzes the impact of globalization on the transformation of international migration flows in the Russian Federation. The author considers the features of global trends in international migration in Russia: increasing involvement of Russia and its regions in the international migration, the qualitative changes in the structure of migration flows, the increasing role of international migration as a factor of the country's demographic development.

Keywords: international migration, demographic development, globalization of migration processes.

In the second half of the 20th century, the humankind encountered the unsurpassable and irreversible power of globalization that in one way or other affected all fields of human life and created a global-scale system of interdependence between countries and nations.

Together with the swift changes in global political and economic systems globalization furthers the dramatic intensification of migration flows and leads to the formation of essentially new peculiarities of international migration. These trends of international migration appeared in the late 1990s and currently are apparent in the majority of countries.

Elsewhere we have already analyzed these trends on the global scale (see Iontsev, Aleshkovski 2007). In the present article we are going to examine some of them in the context of contemporary situation in Russia with the account of historical statistics and new peculiarities of their development in the 21st century.

The Scales of Russia's Involvement in Global Migrations

Already in the ancient times peoples of different nations migrated to Russia.1 The Muscovite state took measures to attract qualified migrants, including military specialists, engineers, physicians. Moreover, starting from the second half of the 18th century a deliberate policy of engaging foreigners was realized in Russia. Along with that, the scales of international migration were insignificant over the major period of Russian history, and international migration was never a crucial factor of demographic development in Russia until the late 1990s.

Due to the contribution of international migration to the population increase in Russia in the second half of the 20th century – the early 21st century we can single out three periods for convenience:

1. The second half of the 18th century – the 1890s: a positive international migration balance, the migrants' flow contributed to a certain population increase in Russia.

2. The 1890s – the middle of the 1970s (except for the years 1927–19402): a negative international migration balance, an overall migration decline exceeded 10 million persons in 1890–1975.

3. The middle of the 1970s – up to the present time: an international migration balance is positive again, the net migration exceeded 9.5 million people in 1975–2010.

Fig. 1. Change in migration inflow in Russia, 1897–2010

Data source for the calculations: Obolenski 1928; Andreev, Darskiy, and Kharkova 1998; Iontsev 1999; UN 2010.

As shown in Fig. 1, the transformation of social, economic and political life conditions contributed to a dramatic intensification of international migration in Russia in the second half of the 1980s – early 1990s. Along with that, due to the collapse of the USSR most post-Soviet republics pursued the policy of (explicit or implicit) deporting the non-native population. Under these circumstances, Russia that preserved relatively free boundaries with the post-Soviet republics, transformed into a powerful immigration centre where millions of ex-USSR citizens rushed.

By the middle of the 2000s, Russia occupied the second place with respect to the foreign population size after the USA (12.3 million persons) and secured the third place after the USA and Germany in terms of the overall migrants' inflow rate during 1992–2010.

In comparison with the early 1990s, only the number of ‘classic’ international migrants in Russia, including refugees, increased by nearly 750 thousand persons. We should notice that these statistics do not include illegal migrants (whose number amounts from 3.5 up to 10 million people according to different estimates), international tourists (their number exceeded 23.7 million persons in 2008 according to the date of the World Tourism Organization) along with commuters, long-term, seasonal migrants and occasional migrants (including economic tourists).

An important indicator of Russia's growing involvement in global migration flows in the 1990s is the increasing rate of the international migration as well as the increasing share of migrants in the total population. For instance, the rate of international migration growth persistently increased in Russia over the period of 1975–2000 and reached 2.99 % per year in the last decade of the 20th century. It was connected, particularly, with the dissolution of the socialist system and join of ex-USSR peoples into the world migration flows. The share of ‘classic’ international migrants in the overall Russian population increased from 7.8 % in 1990 up to 8.7 % in 2010, whereas the changes in the world in general were not so considerable (3.1 % in 2010 compared to 2.9 % in 1990).

Therefore, today Russia is simultaneously the state of destination, origin and transit for millions of international migrants.

The Increase of Russian Regions' Involvement in International Migration

The age of quick movements throughout the world affected practically every part of our planet; the international migrants can be found practically everywhere. At present, all federal districts and regions in Russia are involved in international migration flows. Actually, even the least economically developed regions, the most northern and the most remote Russian regions represent the regions of destination for the international migrants in the 21st century.

Whereas in 1993, 79 of 89 Russian regions were the regions of destination for international migrants, in 1994 their number increased up to 87 from 89 regions (with the only exception of Chechnya and Ingushetia), in 1997 – up to 88 form 89 regions (with the exception of Chechnya) and since 2004 all Russian regions are the regions of destination for international migrants.

In its turn, while in 1993, 79 form 89 Russian regions were regions of origin of international migrants, in 2004 – their amount rose to 88 of 89 regions (with the exception of Aginsko-Buryatsky autonomous district) and in 2010 – 82 of 83 regions (with the exception of Nenetsky autonomous district).

Table 1

Distribution of migrants to Russia among federal districts, 2010, persons

Federal districts

Number of received migrants

From the CIS-countries and the Baltic states

From other countries













North Caucasian
















Far Eastern




Note:Calculations are based on the data from Rosstat (2011b).

Thus, almost all Russian regions are involved in the international migration flows both as regions of destination and regions of origin of international migrants.

As shown in Table 1, the most attractive territory of destination for the immigrants in Russia is the Central federal district, followed by Privolzhsky and Siberian federal districts. At the same time, the most attractive territories for immigrants from the non-CIS countries were Central, Privolzhsky and Southern federal districts.

According to 2010 figures, main destination-regions of international migrants (which received more than 5 thousand migrants) are Moscow province (15,834 residents), Moscow (15,051 residents), Tyumen province (11,583 residents), Krasnodar territory (6,383 residents), Samara province (6,216 residents) and Krasnoyarsk territory (5,984 residents).

In its turn, as shown in Table 2, according to the 2010 data, the main ‘suppliers’ of emigrants in Russia are Central (24 %) and Syberian federal districts (20 %), followed by Privolzhsky federal district (13.5 %). The main regions of origin of international migrants are Moscow (3,303 residents), Omsk province (1,944 residents), Tyumen province (1707 residents), Moscow province (1,187 residents), Altai territory (1,131 residents), Chelyabinsk province (1,113 residents), Khabarovsk territory (1,098 residents) and Kemerovo province (1,063 residents).

Table 2

Distribution of migrants from Russian among federal districts, 2010, persons

Federal districts

Number of migrants

To the CIS-countries and the Baltic states

To other countries













North Caucasian
















Far Eastern




Note:Calculations are based on the data from Rosstat (2011b).

Therefore, during the period of 1993–2010 the geographical changes of international migration flows consisted in the involvement of the increasing number of Russian regions in the international migration processes.

Qualitative Changes of the Migration Flows Structure

The profound changes in the world economy in the second half of the 20th century (caused by the development of postindustrial sector and corresponding transformation of the world labour market needs) as well as political and economic reforms made for the quality changes of the migration flows structure in Russia. We can distinguish the following key changes:

1. Changes of duration of the international migration

The scarce statistics at our disposal is not enough to analyze to the full extent the migration flows duration (first of all, because certain categories of temporary migrants do not need entry permits or because their entry is illegal), and considerable part of the appropriate information is irregular. As a result, quite a lot of temporary flows remain unregistered.

The indirect source of information concerning the duration of migration is the information about the distribution of foreign citizens according to the objectives of their trips. These data are provided by the Border Service of Russia (see Table 3).

Table 3

Received foreigners: objectives of trips, 2009–2010, persons


Number of immigrants, distribution according to objectives of trips, persons




Permanent residence


Service personnel


















Source: Rosstat 2011a: 83.

As shown in Table 3, the major part of interstate migration falls on different types of temporary migration: seasonal, commutation and especially occasional migration, including trips with tourist visa (of which 2/3 falls on economic migration).

With regard to the above-mentioned, the labour migration has been the most widespread in the last two decades. This can be explained by the decline of transportation costs. They facilitate movement and ‘reduce’ distance between countries and continents. In such conditions the migrants prefer temporal work abroad to emigration due to lower material and nonmaterial costs (for further details see Aleshkovski 2005: 26–27; UN 2006: 42–45). On the other hand, globalization of international labour market requires a higher flexibility of migration behavior and it is the labour migration that can guarantee that flexibility.

2. Changes of qualification structure of international migration flows

There is a stable demand in Russia for foreign workers of two qualification ‘poles’: low qualified workers and highly qualified workers of modern sector jobs.

At the same time, the state migration policy encourages an inflow of qualified workers, especially in the fields and sectors of national economy with scarce native workers. In its turn, the low qualified and unqualified migrants encounter more and more impediments blocking the access to the destination countries. Along with that, since the unqualified workers are still pulled out of their native countries and employers in destination countries still recruit foreign workers (even illegally), this group remains involved in international migration processes. The destination countries' authorities have to elaborate projects of temporal engagement of unqualified migrants taking into consideration the fact that their own citizens are unwilling to be engaged in unskilled labour (for further details see ILO 2006: 127–151).

Thus, the changes in the qualification structure of legal migration flows primarily consist in gradual increase of the number of highly qualified migrants with postsecondary education. For instance, the share of people with senior secondary and higher education increased over the period of 2005–2010.

3. Changes of age and gender structure of international migrations flows

Throughout the history most migrants were men. Women participated in international migration mainly as members of male migrants' families. However, in the early 1990s the researches showed that more and more women migrated independently searching for a well-paid (in comparison with the country of their origin) job.

Traditionally, the female population constitutes a considerable part of Russian migration flows (45 per cent to 55 per cent of incomers in 2000–2010). In addition, the female share in the unemployable age exceeds 70 per cent whereas most migrants of childhood and employable age are men.

In many respects, the feminization of migration flows is connected with the structural changes in the world economy which accompany globalization processes. The development of service economy contributes to the increase of service sector in the employment pattern of developed countries and formed stable niches of labour markets in destination countries (textile industry, leisure and entertainment industry, public services sector, home service, sex services etc.) and constantly increasing need for female migrants, including the unqualified ones. Along with that, most niches can be attributed to the ‘risk sphere’, that is they are connected with sex employment or so called close-to-sex employment (employment that is often connected with sex service). These spheres of actually marginal employment represent main migration opportunities for female migrants nowadays (Ivakhnyuk 2005: 138; IOM 2005).

During the last fifteen years we can also observe the tendency of an increasing share of employable age migrants. In 1997 they amounted 63.5 per cent and in 2010 – already 79.6 per cent. In our opinion, this tendency reflects the fact that economic reasons prevail among the reasons for change of domicile.

Thus, another important trend of modern development of the international migration in Russia is the qualitative transformation of the structure of migration flows. That can be proved by the development of mainly temporary migration types, an increasing involvement of qualified workers in international migration, a gradual feminization of migration flows and an increasing share of employable age migrants.

The Determinative Significance of Economic Migration

Already in Ravenstein's works (see Ravenstein 1885, 1889) it was shown that international migration flows are formed due to different reasons, among which the economic ones are the most important. In its turn, the development of economic (and above all, labor) migration is the most lasting and stable tendency in the development of international migration which was stimulated a lot after the formation of global labour market. This market manifests itself in foreign labour export and import that reached an unprecedented scale in the last quarter of the 20th century – the early 21st century.

Though it is difficult to ascertain a general scale of international labour migration flows (since not all countries maintain that kind of control and a considerable part of migrations remain illegal), the international labour migration definitely increases. According to the ILO's estimates, at the beginning of the 21st century there were over 86 million legal labour migrants compared to 3.2 million people in 1960 (ILO 2004).

According to the information provided by the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Ministry for Internal Affairs, the inflow of legal labour migrants in Russia was permanently increasing: in 2000 – 213.3 thousand people, in 2001 – 283.7 thousand people, in 2003 – 377.9 thousand people, in 2005 – 702.5 thousand people, in 2007 – 1717.1 thousand people, in 2008 – 2425.9 thousand people.

Table 4

Foreign workers by types of economic activity, 2008

Type of economic activity

thousand persons

% of the overall number of persons engaged in the given type of economic activity




Agriculture, hunting and forestry






Mining industry






Building and construction industry



Wholesale and retail trade, repair of vehicles, household goods and personal demand items



Transport and communications



Financial activity



Real estate operations, lease holding and delivery of services






Public health and social service



Other community facilities, social and personal service



Note: Calculatedusing the data of Rosstat 2010a.

Despite the fact that labour migrants make up no more than 3.5 per cent of all employees in Russia, the significance of labour migration is much higher for some regions and certain economic sectors. According to Russian Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat), in 2008 labour migrants totaled nearly 19 per cent of all employees in construction sector and more than 5 per cent of all employees in 12 regions of the Russian Federation (see Tables 4, 5).

Table 5

The subjects of Russia with the largest proportion of foreign workers in the overall number of employed population, 2008

Subject of the Russian Federation

working migrants number


% of the overall number of employed population

Chukotka autonomous district



Sakhalin oblast



Yamalia-Nenetsia autonomous district*



Nenetsia autonomous district



Moscow city



The Jewish autonomous oblast



Table 5 continued

Subject of the Russian Federation

working migrants number


% of the overall number of employed population

Khantia-Mansia autonomous district*



Amur oblast



Zabaykalsk region



Moscow oblast



Irkutsk oblast



Kaliningrad oblast



* Autonomous districts are annexed to Tyumen oblast.

Note: Calculated using the data of Rosstat 2010a.

We should notice that in global flows of labour migration, Russia is both a destination country and an origin country. As Rosstat provides, over the period of 1994–2008 Russia accepted more than 8 million legal labour migrants whereas more than 1.3 million of Russians left their country to work in other countries (see Table 6). Besides, in the 1990s Russia was the origin of millions of push-pull migrants (they are actually international economic migrants).

Table 6

Number of Russian citizens who left the Russian territory (persons)





















Source: Goskomstat 2001, 2004; Rosstat 2010b.

The migration of the labour force influences state finances of the countries participating in the global labour market. And while for countries-importers of labour force that influence consists mainly in receiving tax payments and spending means for social protection of labour migrants, for countries-exporters it is more diverse (for more details see Stalker 1996). Money transfers are the most considerable benefit of international migration for countries-importers. By estimates of the World Bank experts, in 2007 the volume of money transfers of labour migrants in Russia averaged 4.7 billion dollars, which makes up 0.4 per cent of the country's GDP. Thus, Russia occupied the 21st place in terms of the volume of money transfers in the mid-2000s. Consequently, in modern Russia labour migration as well as global movement of human capital has become an important factor of economic development.

Structural Insuperability of Illegal Immigration

Such a characteristic tendency of international migration development as structural insuperability of illegal immigration is inseparably connected with legal labour migration.

According to Russian law enforcement practice, the illegal immigrants are people who violate the rules of entry in the Russian territory or rules of temporary residence in its territory. This category is also amplified by those who work illegally. It is necessary to notice that the development of illegal migration is accompanied with the appearance of new categories and groups of migrants who break Russian laws (migration laws, labour laws etc.); besides, they break the laws both of the country of entry and the country of origin or transit.3

The experts note that there is no reliable information about the number of illegal migrants in Russia since due to many reasons it is impossible to ascertain exactly the scale of illegal migration. The available expert accounts and approximate estimates of the illegal migration scale differ so much that they are incomparable. According to different estimates, at the present time there are from 3.5 to 10 million illegal migrants in Russia. As the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Ministry for Internal Affairs provides, in October, 2011 there were about 150 thousand of illegal labour migrants in the Russian territory.4

As we can see, the number of illegal labour migrants constitutes a considerable part of the total labour force. It is worth mentioning that the number of illegal immigrants has reduced considerably in the last years in terms of stricter Russian immigration laws and enactment of special laws against illegal migration.5

Besides, the ‘demographic pressure’ and economic situation in sending countries of illegal migrants contribute to the structure insuperability of illegal immigration under the modern system of global economic relations.

The latter, however, does not mean that the scale of this type of labour migration in Russia cannot be reduced. It is possible by means of the interaction between state, society, ethnic formations and human rights organizations as well as by means of more effective administration of legal labour migrants' flows. The most important thing is to realize that illegal migration is not a form of terrorism or other criminal processes, which should be struggled by means of all state's repressive opportunities.

The Increasing Significance of International Migration for Russian Demographic Development

Throughout the history, the change of population number in certain regions of the world was provided mainly by the natural population increase. The peculiarities of mortality and birth rate evolution, the increasing gap in demographic potential of developed and developing countries as well as world economic globalization led to a considerable increase of the role of international migration in the world demographic development.

In modern Russia, which suffers demographic crisis, the international population migration has acquired a special significance and has become an important factor of its demographic development.

The demographic advantages of immigration to Russia consist in the fact that under demographic crisis the international migration has become the sole source to replenish the Russian population numbers. The net migration over the years 1992–2010 exceeded 6.5 million people and ‘smoothed over’ the natural loss of the Russian population (which totaled 12.5 million persons over the mentioned period) by nearly 50 per cent. At the same time, throughout this time only in the ‘peak’ 1994 year the scale of migration increase was enough not only to compensate the natural loss, but also to provide population growth in Russia.

Table 7

Change in resident population size in Russia, 1992–2010, thousand persons


Population size, beginning of the year

Gross increase

Natural loss

Migration gain




































* with the account of preliminary results of the 2010 all-Russian population census.

Source: Rosstat 2010b: 25; 2011b;

The contribution of net migration in Russian population size change was steadily decreasing till 2003 (55 per cent in 1992–1997, 16 per cent in 1998–2004 and 35 per cent in 1992–2004). Increase of the net migration in 2004–2008 and natural loss decrease slowed down the population decline in Russia. In 2008 the natural loss was up to 71 per cent replaced by net migration (in 2007 – up to 54.9 per cent, in 2006 – up to 22.6 per cent).

Thanks to the fertility increase and mortality decline in August, 2009 Russia fixed the population natural increase by 1050 persons for the first time since 1992. On the whole at the year-end the migratory increase compensated completely the natural loss of population for the first time since 1994.

Table 8

Change in resident population size in Russia, 2002–2010, thousand persons

Gross population loss, 2002–2010

Natural loss







arrived to Russia

left Russia

Overall population








Source: preliminary results of the 2010 all-Russian population census.

The Russian Census of 2010 showed that compared to 2002 the Russian population decreased by 2.26 million people, or by 1.6 per cent. Moreover, annual average population decline compared to the former intercensal period (1989–2002) increased by two times and totaled 0.2 per cent against 0.1 per cent. The latter fact reflects the decrease of the natural loss compensation with net immigration. The latest data of Rosstat confirm that trend: the migration increase of Russian population declined by 38.2 thousand persons, or by 42.7 per cent over the first half of 2011.6

These statistics clearly demonstrate that Russia is becoming more and more dependent on international migrants' inflow in order to compensate population natural loss as well as in order to replenish certain niches of national labour market and, correspondingly, decrease the rate of demographic burden (which inevitably rises due to the native-born population ageing).

Along with that, it is important to note that international migration in Russia not only provides the population natural decrease compensation, but also favours the change of population structure: the migrants are younger. Besides, we should take into account the demographic policy of encouraging large families (families with many children). The age structure of immigrants is younger (compared to the Russian population structure). In 2009, nearly 78 per cent of immigrants were of employable age, whereas in Russia this indicator generally amounts to 63 per cent. In the 2000s, the decreasing share of the migrants that did not reach employable age reflects the narrowing opportunities of getting education for the young people from the CIS countries. In 2009, only 3,999 persons arrived in Russia to get education, among them 3,869 migrants from the CIS countries and 139 migrants from the non-CIS countries.

Can the Immigrants' Inflow Solve the Problems of Russian Demographic Development in the 21st Century?

As majority of forecasts (both Russian and non-Russian) show, there will be population natural decrease in Russia in the 21st century. By the UN forecast, in 2010–2050 the annual natural loss of population is going to total on average about 510 thousand persons (UN 2010). In its turn, by the Rosstat estimates, in 2010–2030 the annual natural loss of population is going to amount to about 485 thousand persons.

At the same time, Russia (as well as West European countries) is going to face the increasing population ageing. As a result, the expenses for social insurance can become too burdensome for the state economy and some territories can become depopulated almost completely.

As numerous post-war generations enter the unemployable age, the loss of employable population will increase: in 2011 the employable population size is going to decline approximately by 875 thousand persons, in 2012, according to the forecast, – by more than 1,000 thousand persons, in 2013–2019 – by another 6,616 thousand persons (see Table 9).

Table 9

Forecast of change in population of Russia, age groups in 2012–2030, middle forecast variant


Under employable age

Employable age

Over employable age

Thousand persons

% of the overall population size

Thousand persons

% of the overall population size

Thousand persons

% of the overall population size






















Table 9 continued


Under employable age

Employable age

Over employable age

Thousand persons

% of the overall population size

Thousand persons

% of the overall population size

Thousand persons

% of the overall population size





























Source: the data of Rosstat (the demographic forecast of Russian population till 2030).

As shown in Table 9, the maximum loss will occur in 2011–2019 when the annual average decline of the population of this age group achieves 850 thousand persons (decreasing overall by 10–11 million persons by 2030).

As a result, the age structure of Russian population will deteriorate considerably. By experts' estimates, the share of employable age population is going to decrease from 61.7 per cent in 2011 up to 52–55 per cent in the 2020s – 2030s. Alongside with that, the share of retirement age population will grow from 22 per cent up to 26–28 per cent. According to forecasts, the macroeconomic factors will contribute to the growth in production output and, consequently, the growth of labour demand. In such conditions the decline of employable age population (the reason of labour force deficit) can substantially slow down economic development. That can heavily affect certain economic sectors and regions. In the short term the labour force will become one of the most deficient economic resources in Russia.

We should take into account the labor-intensive type of Russian economy and the limited opportunities of increase in labour force productivity. Foreign labour force intake and higher internal mobility of Russian population can allow getting over labour force deficit. In such conditions, the immigrants' inflow seems to be the cure-all solution to improve the demographic situation and provide Russian population growth in the 21st century. But is it possible to solve all existing demographic problems in Russia only with the help of international migration?

Russia needs to maintain employable age population at a stable level. The UN and Russian experts' investigations show that for this purpose Russia already now should receive on average about 700–800 thousand migrants (net migration) and gradually increase this amount up to 0.9–1.1 million migrants (see Table 10).

Table 10

Net migration that is indispensable for maintaining stable population size of Russia in 2011–2050

Median amount

With 60 % confidence interval

With 95 % confidence interval

































Source: Vishnevskiy, Andreev, and Treivish 2003: 22.

Employable age population averages three quarters of the migrants' flow. In order to compensate employable age losses Russia needs to draw over 20 million immigrants in the following decades. It is obviously impossible. According to the UN estimates, in 2010–2050 the net immigration will total about 97 thousand persons annually.

Consequently, we should not exaggerate the role of international migration for the Russian demographic development. It will be a mistake to affirm that international migration alone will help to get over the demographic crisis. This myth confuses authorities and public opinion. Immigration can only smooth down some negative effects of the demographic crisis (which is, of course, also important), and to some extent solve certain regional demographic problems (e.g., in the Far East and in Siberia), but not more than that. The example of the developed countries shows that immigration can rather effectively solve demographic problems only at the initial stage of depopulation.

Only a complex approach to demographic processes management can provide an overcoming of the demographic crisis (which includes the extreme phase of depopulation) and subsequent progressive advance. Such approach includes: the increase in total fertility rate (or, at least, its stabilization at the rate of 1.7–1.9 children per woman); the decline in mortality (there are huge opportunities for reducing exogenous mortality rate); the increase in internal mobility within the country and immigrants' inflow; the most important thing isto form the idea of human life as the greatest value of the state.

The Dual Character of Migration Policy

The dual character of migration policy is to a large degree the result of all above-mentioned consistent patterns. We would like to emphasize the fact that international migration policy is in general tough and strictly regulated. It represents a system of special measures, acts of law and international agreements (bilateral and multilateral) that direct migration processes, and pursue economic, demographic, geopolitical and other objectives.

Currently, we can single out three levels of migration policy: global, regional and national (the level of independent states). We observe the dual character of immigration policy at all these levels: global (as a result of conflicting interests of international organizations and independent states), regional/interstate (migration-regime liberalization within integrating regional unions counter to tough policy towards non-union migrants) and national (conflicting demographic and economic interests, on the one hand, and political and social security considerations, on the other hand).

As for the Russian migration policy, on the one hand, over the period of 1991–2010 a certain legal framework of international migration management was formed. On the other hand, in Russia migration is not yet considered a positive phenomenon. The state's top authorities proclaim (particularly, in the President's messages to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation) the thesis of the necessity for a reasonable immigration policy as well as compatriots and qualified workers intake. At the same time, the executive authorities practice a strict approach and treat migration (both legal and illegal) as a threat to national security. Ambiguous attitude to migration (especially of Russophones from CIS-countries and the Baltic states) as well as incomprehension of basic patterns of international migration make for the absence of the Federal Conception of Migration Policy. Unfortunately, there are no strategic conceptions in this sphere.

The current situation id adverse to the interests of economic and demographic development of Russia. Moreover, Russia is losing the opportunity of economic cooperation with the post-Soviet states, including cooperation in the effective use of labour force potential. That potential can be explained by differences in demographic development, firm economic ties, and historical community etc. Therefore, there is an increasing necessity for migration policy that conforms the current migration situation.

In our opinion, contemporary Russia needs to pay special attention to policy-making in the sphere of migration. The base of the policy should be the conception of migration as a common good rather than a disaster.

Thus, it is necessary to pursue the policy (at federal and regional levels) that takes into account interests of the country's economical and demographical development. In its turn, for that purpose the authorities have to realize that only a reasonable and strategically considered migration policy that disallows the ‘triumph of national atavism over the logic of economic development’ (Demeny 2002: 73) can provide a legitimate international migration and rational use of migrants' qualification.


1 Even the origin of the Russian statehood (the 1150th anniversary of which is to be celebrated in 2012) is connected directly with international migration – calling of the Varangian prince Ryurik by Slavic tribes in 862.

2 The experts say that the net immigration in Russia during the period 1927–1940 can be explained by two factors: firstly, the inflow of work power from other Soviet republics in the context of industrialization; secondly, the concentration of residents deported from and repressed in other republics (see Andreev, Darskiy, and Kharkova 1998: 78–85).

3 Different forms of illegal migration and its structure are thoroughly analyzed in Aleshkovski and Iontsev 2006.

4 Short-hand records of the press conference Does Russia Need Migrants? which took place on October 4, 2011 can be found at

5 In July, 2011, Russia signed the Federal Law on Ratification of the Cooperation Agreement on Countering Illegal Labour Migration from Third Countries.



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