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Putin Urges Crackdown On Illegal Labor Migration

Russian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin (left) speaks at the Federal Migration Service in Moscow on January 26.
Several days after sending mixed messages in a published text on immigration and ethnic discord, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said foreigners who break Russia's labor and migration laws should be barred from entering the country.

Speaking at the Federal Migration Service Board in Moscow, prime minister-cum-presidential candidate Putin suggested that foreigners found to have violated the laws could be barred from entering Russia for up to 10 years.

"We need the migration service, law enforcement -- the Interior Ministry and the FSB -- regions, and businesses to coordinate their work so we understand clearly how many people and what kind of professions are needed in a particular region," Putin said.

Putin, who was barred from a third consecutive term under the constitution, is campaigning to be reelected Russian president in the March 4 election. He added that Russians who hire migrants without the proper permits, organize illegal hostels, or provide fake permits should face criminal charges instead of fines.

He also stressed that migrants should integrate into Russian society and “closed ethnic enclaves" should not be created.

"It is crucial to prevent the emergence of closed ethnic enclaves," Putin said. "International experience shows that this is a dead end and it is fraught with risks and additional costs both for migrants themselves and for local residents."

However, Putin said Russia will stick to a visa-free travel regime with fellow members of the Commonwealth of Independent States because Moscow wants to preserve amicable relations.

Millions of migrants, mostly from former Soviet republics of Central Asia, enter Russia visa-free each year.

compiled from agency reports

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