At our request, the wonderful translators who work for Robert Amsterdam have offered the following piece from the Russian press:
Ghetto for guest workers
The capitoline powers want to solve the housing problems of migrants with methods that are far from humanism
by Nikolai Kireyev
It is entirely possible that there will soon appear in Moscow temporary villages for labor migrants from the CIS countries and the far abroad. They will be designated in first order for housing-and-public-utilities workers. Such a proposal was advanced yesterday by the prefect of the South-Eastern Municipal District, Vladimir Zotov. They are planning to erect dormitories for arrival workers in the districts of Lefortovo, Maryino and Vykhino. If the prefect’s idea receives the support of the capitoline powers, construction will begin as early as next autumn. In the meantime, independent experts have met the bureaucrats’ initiative with bayonets. In their opinion, it could create the soil for inter-nationality conflicts.
It is no secret that many migrants arriving in the capital for earnings immediately run up against a housing problem. Inasmuch as the majority of enterprises can not provide their new workers with even temporary housing, the search for a roof over one’s head falls squarely on the shoulders of the latter. In the meantime, according to the data of the city administration, capitoline housing-and-public-utilities for the year 2009 is intending to attract more than 8 thsd. foreign workers. And this means that the new street sweepers and construction workers will need to be lodged someplace at least for a time. “Very many arrivals from the near and far abroad work in the housing-and-public-utilities structure”, told «NI» the press secretary of the SEMD prefecture, Svetlana Govorukhina. “Migrants from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Moldavia [sic] have to live someplace, while they’re toiling here. And the construction of a temporary village for them, as it seems to us, could solve this problem”.
Independent experts, by the way, consider the bureaucrats’ idea not excessively felicitous. “In the scales of a megacity, construction of separate villages for migrants, most likely, will turn out to be a step towards ethnic quarters, living their own life”, told «NI» the head specialist for migration of the Center of the Demography and Ecology of Man, Nikita Mkrtchyan. “Multi-nationality dormitories could turn into a closed ghetto, separate from the other part of the city, with its own culture, economy, social relations. And this will complicate even more the process of the assimilation of the arrivals in a society alien to them”.
Also subscribing to the opinion of the specialists on migration are representatives of the labor migrants themselves. “The problem is not just that the enclaves will turn into a kind of reservations, living by their own laws”, clarified to «NI» a representative of the All-Russian Movement of Labor Migrants of Tajikistan in Russia, Karomat Sharipov. “Such villages could turn out to be a real magnet for various extremist groupings. Those same skinheads will no longer need to ponder where to seek a victim. It will be sufficient simply to come to an officially published address. And the capitoline administration, to my view, will simply not be able in the current situation to ensure reliable protection to arrivals. Conflicts will be unavoidable”.
In the meantime, even less humane ideas for solving the housing question for arrivals are already sounding in the capital. “In the prefecture of the Central District, for example, they have proposed to lodge the migrants in evicted and semi-evicted houses prior to their demolition”, explained to «NI» Ms. Govorukhina. “And likewise in buildings undergoing reconstruction. If these proposals are liked by the capitoline administration, it is possible, already in the nearest years a roof will appear over the head for migrants”. A roof, of course, will appear, but from all appearances, full of holes…
Such proposals, smelling of nationalism, ought to be discarded, consider experts. Migrants need to be lodged together with migrants from the cities of Russia and certainly not in deserted five-stories [built in the 1960s; popularly known as «khrushchevkas» in honor of the Soviet leader who championed their construction—Trans.] “Why limit oneself to the construction of houses only for natives of Central Asia?”, continues Nikita Mkrtchyan. “In Moscow there are enough labor migrants, who have come to the capital from the regions. They likewise are in need of improvement of housing conditions. But the separation thought up by the Muscovite powers could become an additional stimulus for hatred on the basis of nationality. Let this be small apartments, in not the best districts of the city, but accessible to both Tajiks and, let us say, migrants from Bashkiria and Udrmurtia”.
It must be said that Moscow is not the first city that is trying to solve the problem of housing arrangements for labor migrants. “In Samara now they are preparing to open a Center for arrivals working in the sphere of construction and housing-and-public-utilities”, told «NI» a representative of the press-service of the FMS RF [Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation]. “It will represent a dormitory and at the same time play the role of a cheap income-generating house. For an insignificant payment, migrants will be able to lodge in it for the time of work in the city”. In the words of employees of the FMS, the project is being invested by local entrepreneurs, who in addition to a cheap labor force are hoping in such a manner to get a profit too.