Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Window on Eurasia: DPNI Head Calls for ‘Decisive Measures’ Against Immigrants

Paul Goble

Vienna, July 8 – Speaking on the occasion of the third anniversary of the formation of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI), its leader Aleksandr Belov called for the adoption of “decisive measures” against illegal immigrants to Russia, possibly copying the draconian measures employed against them in some developing countries.
Belov told Moscow’s “Segodnya” newspaper that since his organization came into being, Russians have become increasingly supportive of DPNI’s anti-immigrant agenda and that ever more of them back DPNI’s call for harsher measures against immigrants legal and illegal (www.segodnia.ru/?part=article&id=880).
Although DPNI’s “basic goal” remains “the struggle against illegal immigration” to Russia, Belov said, the organization is committed to the broader task of “the defense of the interests of the indigenous population,” a nativist view that has put it on a collision course with non-Slavic citizens of the Russian Federation and with legal immigrants there as well.
According to Belov, DPNI currently is pursuing three specific goals. First, it seeks to dispel what he calls the myth about the utility of immigrants and to explain “the dangers of uncontrolled migration flows.” Second, it seeks tougher laws governing the immigration and expulsion of non-indigenous peoples to the Russian Federation.
Third, it is in the process of creating its own vigilante groups to provide support to the militia and the Russian public in their efforts to root out illegal immigrants and to provide assistance to indigenous residents who find themselves “in conflicts with illegal immigrants,” especially those in “organized national diasporas.”
Belov argues that the problem of illegal immigration is surfacing in an increasing number of Russian cities, indeed, in all of those in which immigrants “with different cultures” form more than five percent of the population. At that point, the immigrants become a problem because they assume they can act as they did at home rather than adapt to Russian cultural norms.
And when the number of migrants “exceeds 25 to 30 percent” of the indigenous population, then members of the indigenous groups “begin to leave their own land,” a process that Belov said is very much on view now not only in the North Caucasus but also “in certain districts of Moscow.”
Illegal immigrants regularly engage in criminal activities, Belov said, although Russian officials try to minimize this lest they trigger protests by the indigenous Russian population. And what is still worse, the arrival of the illegals depresses wages for many Russians and keeps prices in the markets the illegals control much higher than would otherwise be the case.
As he has done in the past, Belov dismissed suggestions that indigenous Russians bear any responsibility for clashes with illegal immigrants and he pointed to the efforts of other countries to control illegal immigration as evidence that no population anywhere wants to be overwhelmed by radically different groups.
But at the same time, Belov advanced a new argument, one that could provoke more problems ahead. He suggested that Russia because of its relatively low per capita incomes should adopt immigration legislation not like that in the European Union or the United States but rather like that in developing countries.
And he gave Malaysia as an example of what he has in mind for immigrants to Russia. In that south-east Asian state, he said, illegal immigrants are given a week to leave the country voluntarily. Those who don’t or can’t then are forced to work clearing Malaysia’s jungles or building its roads.
Such “decisive measures” are necessary, Belov said, to protect the rights and interests of the Russian people. If the authorities are not willing to adopt them, he continued, there is a very real risk that “the indigenous population will have to prepare itself for a Kosovo-type outcome.” But of course, if they do, there would be protests, although from a quarter DPNI would ignore.

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