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Tajikistan Says More Migrant Workers Detained In Russia

Pilots Vladimir Sadovnichy (left) and Aleksei Rudenko were originally sentenced to 10 1/2 years in prison for smuggling and other crimes.
DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's Migration Service says that the detention of Tajik citizens in Russia has increased in the past week amid a row with Moscow over the sentencing of two ethnic Russians for smuggling and other crimes, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Safiallo Devonaev, the head of the state Migration Service, said on November 15 in Dushanbe that according to official information from the Russian government, on November 8 some 84 Tajik citizens were being held in detention centers in Russia awaiting deportation.

On November 14, that number had increased to 205 and it rose to 245 the following day.

Devonaev said the verdict against two foreign pilots -- Russian Vladimir Sadovnichy and Estonian citizen Aleksei Rudenko -- sentenced for smuggling, illegal entry into Tajik airspace, and breaching international air flight rules is not the reason for the increase in Tajiks being detained in Russia.

Citing 12 Tajiks deported to Tajikistan by Russia last weekend, Devonaev said this group received their deportation orders before November 8 when Sadovnichy and Rudenko were sentenced to jail for 10 1/2 years in Tajikistan.

Their sentences were automatically reduced to 8 1/2 years under a presidential amnesty.

Devonaev noted that official statistics show that during the first 10 months of 2011 more than 674,000 Tajik citizens migrated to Russia and some 546,000 had returned to Tajikistan from Russia.

He added that last year Russia deported more than 3,000 Tajiks to their homeland.

Devonaev said that officially some 560,000 Tajik citizens currently live in Russia but unofficial sources say there are more than 1 million Tajik labor migrants there.

High unemployment and low wages force Tajiks to seek work in Russia.