The Guardian reports:
Hundreds of thousands of people in Russia will lose their jobs after President Vladimir Putin approved plans to ban foreigners from trading at street stalls and markets. Immigrants from former Soviet republics such as Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan dominate markets in Russia, mainly selling fruit and vegetables.
The new measures, which were condemned as discriminatory and ill-conceived by human rights and migrants' activists, will come into effect next year said the prime minister, Mikhail Fradkov, in a televised meeting with Mr Putin.
The president last month demanded that the government act to ensure that the interests of "native Russians" engaged in small trade were better protected.
The move came on the heels of a political crisis with Georgia that flared when Tbilisi arrested and deported four alleged Russian spies. After that a number of Georgian businesses in Russia were closed in a nationalist backlash that one western diplomat described as "openly racist".
Mr Fradkov insisted the measures were not draconian. "We are taking into account the demand for labour, but doing it within laws that will be comprehensible both to us and to foreigners," he said. Mr Putin nodded approval, saying: "You have made the right decision."
The ban will begin with a transitional phase from January 1 when foreign small traders will not be allowed to sell alcohol and medicines.
Commentators said the measures were a Kremlin move to adopt the rhetoric of popular nationalists and groups like the Movement Against Illegal Immigration ahead of elections next year.