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Russian Region Bans Employment Of Foreigners In Dozens Of Sectors


Regional leader Aisen Nikolayev speaks during a rally against illegal migration in Yakutsk on March 18.
Regional leader Aisen Nikolayev speaks during a rally against illegal migration in Yakutsk on March 18.

YAKUTSK, Russia -- The head of Russia's Sakha-Yakutia region has signed a decree banning the employment of foreigners in dozens of economic sectors and other activities, amid tensions following the arrest of a Central Asian migrant suspected of raping a local woman.

Aisen Nikolayev's decree, which was placed on the website of the Far Eastern region's government on March 28, bans foreigners from working in a total of 33 sectors including trade, city transportation, food and garment production, construction, taxi services, and accounting.

A statement quoted Nikolayev as saying that the decree was "in full accordance” with federal legislation.

It said the text takes into account "peculiarities of the labor market on the territory of [Sakha-Yakutia] and the necessity of giving priority to citizens of the Russian Federation in employment issues."

There was no indication that the matter was discussed during Russian President Vladimir Putin's one-day visit to Kyrgyzstan on March 28.

The move comes amid a wave of attacks against Central Asian migrants in recent weeks that hit the regional capital, Yakutsk, 4,900 kilometers east of Moscow.

Tensions rose there after police on March 17 said that a 23-year-old Kyrgyz citizen had been arrested on suspicion of abducting and raping a 36-year-old woman the previous day.

On March 28, police in Yakutsk said that they had detained overnight four men accused of attacking a grocery corner store owned by a "migrant from Central Asia."

The detentions took place after a video shared on social media on March 27 showed attackers trying to destroy scales at the corner store, throwing fruits and vegetables at the owner, and threatening him and insulting him.

In a video distributed by police showing the four suspects in custody, one of them said they were drunk during the attack.

Yakuts, a Turkic-speaking indigenous people, make about half of the vast region's population of roughly 1 million.

There is tension between labor migrants from Central Asia and other residents, including ethnic Russians and other indigenous groups, in cities across Russia.

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