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Cablegate: Tajik Govt Reaction to Russian Migration Law (C-Re7-00278)

VZCZCXRO0911
RR RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHDBU #0348/01 0681128
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091128Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9771
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 1961
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1940
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1868
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 1185
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 2041
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 2002
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2017
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1921
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 0145
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 1395

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSHANBE 000348

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SMIG ELAB ECON PINR TI RS
SUBJECT: TAJIK GOVT REACTION TO RUSSIAN MIGRATION LAW (C-RE7-00278)

REF: STATE 022077

DUSHANBE 00000348 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) In a meeting with PolOff March 1, head of the State
Social Protection, Employment and Migration Agency Anvar Boboev
appeared optimistic that Russia's new migration law would make
it easier for Tajik labor migrants to travel to, register, and
obtain work permits in Russia. Prior to the government
reorganization in December, Boboev headed the State Migration
Service, which was then subsumed into the larger agency and
folded into the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection.
Despite the expanded portfolio, migration issues continue to
occupy most of Boboev's time.

2. (U) Publicly, the government has not expressed concern with
Russia's new law, stating that it will make it easier for Tajik
labor migrants to easily register and work in Russia.
Tajikistan has a visa-free regime with Russia. According to
Boboev, the new law means that a Tajik migrant can enter Russia,
show an employer his migration card, international passport and
a receipt showing that he has paid his labor migration fee and
be considered a legal migrant. Critics say that although
migrants can register legally, employers may still tend to hire
illegal migrants in order to avoid paying social benefit taxes
to the government.

3. (U) Russia set Tajikistan's migrant quota at 600,000, far
below the one million currently believed to be working in
Russia. Although the Tajik government publicly acknowledges
that between 500,000-600,000 Tajiks are in Russia working as
labor migrants, the government has petitioned Russia to increase
the quota to 800,000. Boboev explained that the government
requested the 200,000 increase to accommodate the seasonal
migrants who travel frequently between the countries and for a
future overall population increase. He did not know if Russia
would approve the increase, but was optimistic, citing
Tajikistan's close relationship with Russia. Tajikistan relies
heavily on the over $1 billion in remittances from workers in
Russia. The earnings prop up Tajikistan's local consumption
boom.

4. (U) The bulk of Tajik labor migrants - approximately 46
percent - work as low-skill laborers in construction; 20 percent
work in Russia's markets; while the remainder work in health,
education, and other sectors. Boboev pointed out that although
many Tajik migrants are skilled in technical trades such as auto
mechanics, many do not have certificates validating their
skills. The Tajik government plans to establish training
centers to teach short-term courses and certify technical skills
for migrants. These certificates will be valid in Russia as
well.

5. (U) Boboev cited that Russia deported 17,000 Tajik migrants
in 2005, but only 6,100 in 2006. He attributes the drastic
decrease to increased migrant awareness and education. Boboev
predicts that Russia will deport even fewer migrants this year.

6. (U) Although publicly the Tajik government has not expressed
concern about Russia's new immigration law, the government is
bracing itself for an influx of migrants returning from Russia.
According to Boboev, the government aims to create more job
opportunities in Tajikistan by improving economic conditions for
small and medium-sized enterprises, with a particular emphasis
on developing job opportunities for women. Boboev did not
explain what steps the government would take to make this
happen. Returnees face bleak job prospects in a 20 percent
unemployment market, and many local citizens fear an uptick in
crime.

7. (U) It is still too early to gauge the law's impact, and the
general population's response has been muted. Local
non-governmental organizations that serve as migrant information
centers agree with the government's prognosis that the law will
be a positive development and will encourage more migrants to
register legally. The centers are ready to educate migrants on
the new law and their rights.

8. (U) COMMENT: Although the new law may encourage Tajik labor
migrants to register legally, it does not address the migration

DUSHANBE 00000348 002.2 OF 002


problems most Tajiks are concerned about. Tajiks suffer
horrible living and working conditions in Russian and cases of
extreme and violent racism are not rare. Every year, more than
a few migrants return to Tajikistan in body bags. Corrupt
ticket consolidators charge migrants triple for Tajik Air
tickets to and from Russia. However, at least they have jobs in
Russia. If Russia closes its doors, Tajiks will likely pursue
openings in other countries. END COMMENT.
JACOBSON

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