Streetwise Professor

February 20, 2011

Futility Alert

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 10:35 am

Apparently the reduction of Russian military conscript terms from one year to two is not reducing dedovshchina, as the change was intended to accomplish:

Citing Newsru.com, Interfax and other outlets, the New Region agency reported yesterday that on Friday, the press service of the Chief Military Investigation Administration of the Russian Investigation Committee had reported that “in all military districts and in the fleets, there has been an outburst of crimes committed by draftees.”

“More than 90 percent” of these violations of military and civil law have been committed by draftees even as the number of crimes committed by officers has declined, the investigators said. And Aleksandr Sorochkin, the head of that agency, linked this upsurge to changes in the draft cycle.

When everyone served two years, he said, most crimes among soldiers were committed by the 25 percent in their last six months of service, a pattern that gave rise to the term “dedovshchina.” With the reduction in service to a year, Sorochkin said, “now almost half of those drafted consider themselves” senior enough to oppress those more junior.

At the same time, the investigator continued, some of this increase reflects the cutback in the number of training officers, a reduction that has allowed “informal leaders” to fill that gap and “affect the psychological climate in military collectives,” often in an extremely negative way.

According to an article in “Svobodnaya pressa,” the number of soldiers ready to oppress their fellow draftees has risen by a third, exactly the opposite pattern that those who argued for a reduction in the length of service said would obtain. But as the New Region agency report makes clear, it is hard to evaluate these numbers.

If one takes the report as accurate, an immediate conclusion is that a deeply entrenched culture cannot be uprooted with superficial changes.  The source of the problem lies more with officers’ abdication of control for what goes on in the barracks.  That abdication apparently hasn’t changed, and if the article is accurate, it has actually gotten somewhat more acute.

I would also suggest another possible explanation for the stories appearing in Newsru.com and Interfax.  The one year conscription term is imposing serious strains on the military’s ability to fill the ranks.  The service term reduction was intended to reduce dedovshchina.  If it is not having this effect, the military can argue that the reform is counterproductive and should be eliminated.  Thus, somewhat perversely, the military has an incentive to hype this story in order to justify an extension of the term of service.  Indeed, more sinisterly, it can even have an incentive to encourage or facilitate the brutality in order to sabotage a change it was never enthusiastic about: that could explain just why the number of “training officers” were cut back as reported at the link.

Regardless of the explanation, the Russian military manpower dilemma persists.  I say again: rather than spending tens of billions on new hardware (something that Kudrin criticized last week), the Russian military should get its software problem under control.  The best hardware is useless if the software is defective.  But I also say again: that ain’t going to happen, not least because that’s not nearly so lucrative as throwing money at defense contractors (a good chunk of which, of course, can be redirected to the pockets of the spenders).

I’m so glad that the Russian government can pour huge sums into upgrading the defenses of the Kuriles.  It’s obvious they have no better use for the money.

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22 Comments »

  1. SWP, you should put “defense” in quotations (like “president” and “prime minister” when referring to Russia), because Japan’s and Russia’s populations are not that different, Japans is far wealthier and has way more friends among nations, and Japan can roll into and seize the islands right off its shores any time it likes, regardless of what Russia does, just as easily as Russia rolled into Georgia. The prospect of watching the Russian navy try to respond gives rise to fits of laughter.

    S&P says Russia is headed for the big flush economically.

    http://larussophobe.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/editorial-the-coming-russian-depression/

    It doesn’t have any money to protect helpless draftees because Putin spent it all on gold-plated residences for himself.

    http://larussophobe.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/editorial-home-sweet-gold-plated-home-for-vladimir-putin/

    This one sick, sick country.

    Comment by La Russophobe — February 21, 2011 @ 5:57 am

  2. With the reduction in service to a year, Sorochkin said, “now almost half of those drafted consider themselves” senior enough to oppress those more junior.

    Didn’t you call this one when the changes were made?

    Comment by Tim Newman — February 22, 2011 @ 5:40 am

  3. Sechin thinks Google caused Egypt.

    http://af.reuters.com/article/tunisiaNews/idAFLDE71L0DW20110222

    Comment by La Russophobe — February 22, 2011 @ 6:11 am

  4. Nobody anywhere has any proof at all that Boris Nemtsov stole money while in power. Yet Vladimir Putin can accuse him of doing so without showing the slightest scrap of proof, and get away with it.

    http://www.rferl.org/content/opposition_lose_putin_slander_suit/2309344.html

    Everybody everywhere knows that Gennady Timochenko is one of the closest people in the world to Vladimir Putin. Yet Nemtsov can’t say so without paying tens of thousands of rubles for the privilege.

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/nemtsov-loses-suit-filed-by-putins-ally/430267.html

    What a country!

    Comment by La Russophobe — February 22, 2011 @ 6:34 am

  5. @Tim–Yup. To be honest, I think if they reduced the term of service to 2 days, the guys in their second day of service would be beating the cr*p out of the guys in their first. The problem isn’t with the term of service, but with a complete abdication of responsibility of the officers for what goes on in the barracks. Lord of the Flies on a scale of 1 million people. They keep yammering about creating professional NCOs but it never happens.

    In Tsarist times, peasants would hold a funeral for those who were called up for military service, because the term of enlistment was 25 years: the likelihood of someone returning alive was virtually nil. Russia has tried long terms of service and short terms of service, and military service has been bestial under both. That’s not the issue. It’s the Russian military culture.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 22, 2011 @ 9:51 am

  6. Actually Professor, its not Russian military culture that causes the problem, it is the brutality of Russian culture in general, just look at the way they treat ethnic minorities for example.

    Comment by Andrew — February 22, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  7. Why then mintorities move to Russia and not vice versa?

    Comment by So? — February 22, 2011 @ 9:26 pm

  8. Because they accept the abuse in order to send money back to their families.

    It is interesting to note that most immigrants to Russia do not take their families with them, or bring them at a later stage, but use the money earned to remit to their families, when questioned most seem to give the answer that it is simply too dangerous to bring wives and children due to the risks of them being attacked by Russian racist gangs, and it is a very real threat.

    Comment by Andrew — February 23, 2011 @ 1:44 am

  9. Inside Russia’s Racism Problem
    By YURI ZARAKHOVICH/MOSCOW Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2006

    The blast that ripped through a small cafe in the Cherkizovo market in eastern Moscow Monday morning killed eight instantly, including two children aged four and five. Two more victims died in a hospital, and the death count may yet grow: eleven of 35 wounded are in extremely grave condition. It was a brutal attack, and many Westerners acquainted with the Chechen rebels’ tactics over the years might at first simply conclude it was yet another front in the war on terror — a random act of violence perpetrated by Islamic militants bent on inflicting as much carnage as possible on the West, be it George Bush’s U.S. or Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
    Except that most of those who were killed are Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chinese and Vietnamese — the “blacks” or “churki” (wooden stubs), as Russian Nationalists derogatively call non-white foreigners, and as the increasing number of average Russians casually echo them. On Tuesday, law enforcement officials said they identified the bombers as three young ethnic Russian students of Moscow colleges. The suspects believed, Moscow’s Prosecutor Yuri Demin told the press, that “There are too many Asians” here.
    As repugnant as that may sound, it is becoming an increasingly popular view in today’s Russia. Which is why even if the two suspects arrested are indeed guilty, they might get away with the crime. With 52% Russians supporting the slogan “Russia for Russians,” and with many increasingly sympathetic to those who attack immigrants, the courts may well be lenient. “Racist attacks happen with shocking regularity in Russia, and the government is shirking its responsibilities and failing to confront the problem,” Amnesty International said in its May 2006 report on hate crime in Russia. According to the Moscow Human Rights Bureau, racists murdered 10 people last year and 18 in the first half of this year, not incluing the ten people killed by the Cherkizovo market bomb.
    Last September, a St. Petersburg court heard the case of a neo-Nazi group, known as Shultz88, accused of multiple racial assaults. The leader got six years, while three storm troopers got three years of suspended sentences each. One was let go as underage. And storm trooper Alexei Vostroknutov was let go for the lack of proof.
    I met Shultz88’s storm troopers in July 2004. One of them introduced himself as Alexei, but would not give his last name because he was facing that same trial. He had spent six months in pre-trial detention, but was set free. Alexei boasted about the number of the “churki” and “yids” he assaulted — “And I don’t care how many of them died.” There wasn’t another Alexei at the Shultz88 trial, so it must be he whom they let off scot-free. He knew he could afford to boast.
    A day before that encounter I talked with Yuri Belyayev, leader of the neo-Nazi Freedom Party, based in St Petersburg. As we talked, he leaned over my recorder to make sure his quote would not be missed and said very distinctly: “Let me report: that Syrian who they say died in a Subway accident — it was not an accident at all. My skin-group leader, the nickname of Valtroon, pushed him.”
    Belyayev also knew he did not risk anything. He supported Putin and believed the President shared some of his goals. “He is for rubbing the churki out, and for a strong Russia, and so are we,” Belyayev said. Back in the fall of 1999, in the wake of terrorist apartment bombings in Moscow and other Russian cities, then-Premier Putin pledged “to rub out the terrorists on the john.” Neo-Nazis — along with many Russians who would genuinely feel insulted if they were called Nazis — interpreted this statement in the same way Belyayev did — as a virtual license to attack. I heard it from officers who fought in Chechnya often enough.
    It is true that on the eve of the G-8 Summit, Putin’s government had to show that it had cleaned up St. Petersburg; the police shot dead a 22-year-old skinhead, named as a neo-Nazi leader, charged with a blatant murder of an African student and resisting arrest. But despite that show of force, hate assaults did not cease either in St. Petersburg or elsewhere. A week after the G-8 summit, the jury at the St. Petersburg City Court acquitted four nationalists charged with the deadly assault of an African student. The gallery applauded and shouted “well done” and “thanks” to the jury.
    About a week ago, a band of skinheads beat to pulp a Tajik boy in a dacha Moscow village where I live, while another gang badly stabbed two Dagestanis on a suburban train. And many of these cases will never even be registered with the authorities.
    What many Russians do not understand is that once they use the hate vocabulary of “churki” and “blacks,” they feed the specter of fascism even if they do not fully support it. And yes, this specter is getting out of hand.
    Back in July 2004, Alexei of the Shultz88 group told me: “The time of our shahids, and our bombings, has come.” He was talking of groups or individuals who would create a Nazi al-Qaeda by linking through the Internet. Two years ago, I thought that the government could still roll all this scum back within a week. Monday’s bombing seems to indicate that it might be too late — even if the government actually wanted to.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1304096,00.html#ixzz1ElsQ8hdW

    Comment by Andrew — February 23, 2011 @ 2:02 am

  10. There are no firm numbers on the assaults, yet each of the embassies reported violent attacks on their nationals occur with increasing frequency. A Kenyan representative explained that the rising violence is driven in part by resentments that emerged with the collapse of communism. “There is a belief that the Soviet Union wasted all its resources trying to help lazy Africans and we are to blame for the current problems in Russian society.” Another representative from Sierra Leone reported that a student was stabbed and nearly killed and his attackers were charged with “hooliganism” and given minimal punishments.

    That reality is even more complicated given the internal politics of post-Cold War Russia. Labor competition and religious bias have meant that there is an even higher degree of contempt directed at emigrants from the former Soviet republics. “You must remember,” one representative pointed out, “that these thugs will bypass a Kenyan to get at a Kazakh.”

    Later that week I spoke to Yelena Khanga, an Afro-Russian journalist and author who grew up in Moscow and watched as the racial landscape changed. She pointed out that separate realities operate in the city; it is simultaneously a cosmopolitan capital filled with art galleries and a place whose outskirts are increasingly fueled by resentments of foreigners.

    http://www.thedefendersonline.com/2010/03/26/dispatches-from-moscow-racism-and-hope-in-russia/

    Comment by Andrew — February 23, 2011 @ 2:03 am

  11. Russian Racist Murders Anger Kyrgyzstan

    Wave of attacks on migrant workers in Russia places growing strain on relations between Bishkek and Moscow.
    29 Feb 08
    Kyrgyzstan’s leaders are urging the Russian authorities to take firmer action over the growing number of murders of Kyrgyz migrants.

    Until recently, Kyrgyz featured more rarely in crime reports in Russia than, for instance, Tajiks or people from the Caucasus. Now they appear routinely, almost always as victims.

    Nine Kyrgyz nationals were stabbed to death in the first two months of this year alone in Moscow and the satellite town of Pushkino. Another two were left seriously injured and in hospital.

    In one typical case on February 19, a young man attacked a Kyrgyz migrant with a knife on the street, inflicting several wounds on him before making off.

    The authorities in Kyrgyzstan and representatives of the migrant community abroad say robbery is rarely the motive, and that all the murders were the work of ultra-nationalist thugs.

    Radical right-wing skinheads and other nationalist youth organisations have become an increasingly serious phenomenon in Russia since the late Nineties. Most of their victims are migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus – instantly identifiable as non-Russians from their facial features.

    The Kyrgyz embassy has already issued two protests to the Russian authorities, urging them to investigate these incidents and prevent such crimes happening in the future.

    Senior Kyrgyz officials have contacted leaders of Russian police and security by telephone to express concern.

    On February 22, the parliament of Kyrgyzstan formally asked its counterpart, the Russian Duma, to facilitate speedier investigations into the recent murders.

    Kyrgyz diaspora groups have asked the Russian government and police to offer them greater security, issuing a statement describing hate crimes as “absolutely intolerable in a civilised country”.

    The Russian interior ministry and prosecution service have said they are committed to solving crimes of violence committed against Kyrgyz people.

    At home, the government is trying to find ways to help bereaved families. The head of the State Committee for Migration and Employment, Aygul Ryskulova, has promised help for the families of murder victims, including finding them lawyers to pursue compensation claims in Russian courts.

    According to Ryskulova’s committee, about 250,000 Kyrgyzstan nationals currently live and work in Russia, many of them in the construction industry. Economically, they are of huge importance to their homeland. Official data show that in the first nine months of 2007, the remittances they sent back exceeded 710 million US dollars.

    The money sustains elderly relatives and enables families to pay for the education of their children and buy houses.

    As well as being a recipient of migrant labour from Central Asia, Russia is also the dominant regional power, with which Kyrgyzstan enjoys a particularly close political relationship.

    This context was highlighted by Bakyt Beshimov, a member of parliament from the Social Democratic Party, who told IWPR that concerns for the safety of Kyrgyz nationals needed to be expressed in a manner that did not undermine relations with Moscow.

    “This is a very complex problem and its solution must be approached from the point of interests of our citizens who are in Russia of necessity, often illegally,” he said. “At the same time, we do not want to cast a shadow over our friendly relationship with Russia. It’s important that we continue handling this in a balanced manner.”

    Asein Isaev, who heads the Kyrgyz foreign ministry department for relations with other former Soviet states, believes the Russian authorities are genuinely concerned about racial attacks. This being the case, “given the high level of political and interpersonal relationships between Kyrgyzstan and Russia, it is possible we can influence this situation,” he told IWPR.

    But while the government opts for a softly-softly approach towards the Russian authorities, some sections of the public are clamouring for more action.

    Last week, several civil society groups in Kyrgyzstan staged a protest march against fascism, racism and xenophobia in Russia and called for eight days of mourning for the nine murder victims.

    Activists sent open letters to Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiev and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, demanding guarantees that the murder investigations would be transparent.

    Tolekan Ismailova, head of the Citizens Against Corruption group, believes Central Asian governments should work together to press for change, although she does not believe it makes sense to demand that Moscow single-handedly end violent race crime.

    Ismailova, whose nephew died in Russia last year, believes the Kyrgyz authorities could be doing more to prepare people for life abroad.

    “Before going off to other countries, our citizens need to be given safety training because people are very vulnerable when they go into the unknown,” she said.

    Arkady Dubnov, a Moscow-based journalist who writes on Central Asian affairs, says xenophobia has grown to “depressing levels” in Russian society over the last decade.

    “The safety of Kyrgyz guest workers has recently become horrifying bad….The situation is getting worse despite the Russian president’s bold assertion that life has become safer,” said Dubnov.

    “Kyrgyz citizens are among the ranks of those targeted by the skinheads and thugs who attack people with non-Russian features.”

    Some Kyrgyz activists fear if the wave of racist attacks continues, ethnic Russians in Kyrgzystan, who make up ten per cent of the population, could be targeted as a form of reprisal.

    Last week, the youth movement Jebe (“Arrow”) addressed an angry statement to President Putin expressing indignation at the apparent inaction of the Russian authorities.

    “We see that your law-enforcement agencies and local government bodies ignore and thereby encourage fascist tendencies, which are being used as an effective means of intimidating unwelcome guests,” the statement read.

    Such attacks, said the statement, “could provoke an anti-Slavic mood among certain sections of the Kyrgyz population who are angered by the brutality of the skinheads and by the outrageous indifference of the Russian authorities”.

    Yrys Kadykeev is an IWPR contributor in Bishkek

    http://iwpr.net/report-news/russian-racist-murders-anger-kyrgyzstan

    Comment by Andrew — February 23, 2011 @ 2:07 am

  12. The Kremlin Vigilantes
    As anti-immigrant groups grow more violent, they get more explicit support from Russian authorities.
    One day this winter a trainload of migrant workers from Uzbekistan arrived at a railway station in Moscow where they were greeted by a crowd of 100 people waving placards that said things like ILLEGAL ONES, GET OUT OF HERE! and AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT IS A THIEF. Behind the demonstration: the Young Guard—the youth group of the ruling United Russia party—which says its mission is to help fulfill Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s plan to rein in the number of migrant laborers coming into the country. “The party is responsible for executive and legislative policy,” says Andrei Tatarinov, deputy director of the Young Guards’ central headquarters, “and we are responsible for taking that policy onto the streets.”
    Such a policy represents a big turnaround for Russia, which until very recently has officially welcomed immigrants if not with open arms than at least with grudging acceptance. Since the fall of the Soviet Union there have been no restrictions on travel between most of the former Soviet states, though the number of work permits issued has varied from year to year. Russia’s massive building and retail boom fueled by years of steady economic expansion created millions of largely semiskilled jobs that workers from Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan rushed to fill, with official blessing. As a result, Russia last year was the second biggest immigrant destination in the world (after the United States), with nearly 7 million migrants, 2.8 million legal and about 4 million illegal.
    But as the Russian economy craters, its immigrant community looks set to suffer most as a backlash against foreigners—Russia’s time-honored scapegoats from tsarist times—gathers pace. Over the last year, the number of attacks on foreigners has risen sharply. Sova, a Moscow NGO that monitors hate crimes, reports that 96 foreigners were killed and 410 wounded as a result of racist attacks in 2008—an increase of nearly a third over the year before. Aleksandr Verkhovsky, head of Sova, says racist gangs of armed vigilantes are “walking the streets, their faces wrapped in black scarves” and assaulting and terrorizing immigrants. The police do virtually nothing to stop them, he says.

    Almost every illegal immigrant has a horror story to tell. Boria Zhan, a 26-year-old from Tajikistan, says he spent 18 days last fall building a dacha for a rich Moscow family 150 kilometers out of town. When he asked for the promised 20,000 rubles ($843), his employer threw him out on the road penniless. In a spate of particularly horrific incidents, the head of a Tajik laborer was found in a Moscow trash bin in December, and in October a gruesome video of two immigrants being decapitated by masked Russian-speaking men began circulating on ultranationalist Web sites. Alberto Andreani, who heads the European Union-funded Prevention of Human Trafficking Project in St. Petersburg, estimates that 300 people become victims of forced labor every day in Russia.
    Official Russian policy toward immigrants has also lurched toward anti-immigrant populism. With unemployment expected to soar as the economic crisis takes hold, Putin announced in December that quotas would be cut in half in 2009, from 4 million to 2 million permits a year. Russia’s State Organization for Migration complains that corrupt police and officials are now routinely shaking down foreign workers. “‘Russia is only for Russians’—that’s what I hear more and more from nationalist movements, even from members of the government,” says Igor Yeleferenko, leader of the United Russia faction in the Moscow city Duma.
    A key bellwether of official anti-immigrant sentiment is the government’s attitude toward the ultranationalist Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI). In the summer of 2007, police arrested DPNI thugs after they roughed up foreigners in St. Petersburg. But last summer the DPNI was allowed to stage several marches in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Now the movement’s leader, Aleksandr Belov, boasts that “finally, we have been heard—the ruling party supports our concerns about the number of illegal immigrants in Russia.” Like members of the Young Guard, he now says he plans to train vigilante groups to “help the police” by seeking out illegals.
    Aside from the human toll, there is an economic cost. Last year immigrant labor comprised 6 percent of Russian output, and demand for foreign labor is only expected to grow. Russia’s working population has been falling steadily as a result of soaring death rates and disastrously low birthrates through the late 1980s and ’90s. The State Statistics Service estimates that the country’s workforce will fall by some 8 million people over the next seven years. In August, President Dmitry Medvedev was talking of Russia’s “labor famine.” “This problem is greater than any other facing us over the next 10 years,” says economist Yevgeny Yasin.
    But the damage is already done. Research last year by the International Organization for Migration showed that 76 percent of immigrants had no intention of staying in Russia for more than a few years, or bringing their families there. In the hostile new climate, the exodus of workers is likely to be as dramatic as their influx—and those remaining are likely to reap more of Russia’s anger at growing unemployment and poverty.
    http://www.newsweek.com/2009/02/13/the-kremlin-vigilantes.html

    Comment by Andrew — February 23, 2011 @ 2:08 am

  13. Russia: Migrant Construction Workers Face Serious Abuses
    End Employer Exploitation, Forced Labor, Climate of Violence

    FEBRUARY 10, 2009

    Mane Buchanan, researcher in the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch and author of the report
    (Moscow) – Migrant construction workers in Russia face widespread abuse both in and outside of the workplace, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. In a climate of rising hate-motivated violence against migrants, exacerbated by the global financial crisis, the Russian government is failing to protect these workers from abusive employers, employment agencies, and police.

    The 130-page report, “‘Are you Happy to Cheat Us?’ Exploitation of Migrant Construction Workers in Russia,” documents widespread withholding of wages, failure to provide required contracts, and unsafe working conditions by employers at construction sites across Russia. It also details cases in which workers were unwittingly trafficked into forced labor by employment agencies that promised construction jobs in Russia, but then delivered workers to employers who confiscated their passports and forced them to work without wages. In some cases, these workers were confined and beaten.

    “Migrant construction workers come to Russia for decent jobs and instead find violence and exploitation,” said Jane Buchanan, researcher in the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “Russia should undertake rigorous reforms to protect migrant construction workers from these serious human rights abuses.”

    Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 140 migrant construction workers who have worked in 49 Russian cities and towns from 2006 to 2008.

    More than 40 percent of Russia’s 4 million to 9 million migrant workers are employed in construction, which prior to the global economic crisis had been one of the major engines of Russia’s growth. Most migrant workers come from other countries of the former Soviet Union, looking to escape poverty and unemployment. Citizens of most of those countries can enter Russia without a visa.

    The report documents exploitation and abuse at a time of Russia’s phenomenal economic growth. With the Russian economy suffering the impacts of the global financial crisis, migrant workers face an increased risk of exploitation and violence, Human Rights Watch said.

    “Without urgent action by the Russian government, migrant construction workers will be doubly vulnerable to abuse, both by employers and by others looking to scapegoat migrants for the country’s economic problems,” Buchanan said.

    Human Rights Watch said that almost none of the workers interviewed had been given contracts, as required by Russian law. The lack of a contract makes workers vulnerable to wage and other abuses and limits their opportunities to seek assistance from official bodies in cases of abuse. Employers routinely withhold wages from workers, make unexpected and illegal deductions in wages, or refuse to pay wages altogether. Workers who refuse to work in protest over unpaid wages may face violence and threats by their employers.

    “This kind of exploitation is so pervasive that workers often labor for months, waiting and hoping to be paid,” said Buchanan. “They recognize that their chances for decent, reliable pay won’t be much better with another employer.”

    Police regularly target ethnic minorities, including migrant workers, for petty extortion during spot document inspections on the street. Migrant workers told Human Rights Watch that sometimes, during these inspections, police also beat or humiliated them. In some egregious cases, police required migrant workers to perform forced labor at police stations or other locations.

    “Sadly, violence seems to be a fact of life for many migrant workers in Russia,” said Buchanan. “Whether it’s employers trying to intimidate their workers, police roughing them up during a shake-down, or hate-motivated attacks by regular citizens, Russia’s migrant workers are vulnerable at almost every turn.”

    Russia has revised its migration laws in recent years to make it easier for workers who can enter Russia without a visa to legalize their stay and employment. The steps, while positive, do not go far enough to protect migrant workers from abuse.

    “Russia has an obligation under international law to protect all victims of abuse, irrespective of the victim’s migration status or contractual status,” said Buchanan. “It’s time for the government to stop acting as if migrant workers don’t have rights and take decisive action against abusive employers and employment agencies.”

    Human Rights Watch called on the government to ensure rigorous labor inspections, prosecution of abusive employers, and effective regulation of employment agencies. It should also develop accessible complaint mechanisms for victims and timely and effective investigations into allegations of abuse. In addition, further reform in migration law is necessary to allow workers to more easily regularize their stay, making them less vulnerable to abuse and more likely to seek protection from state agencies.

    Human Rights Watch also called on the home countries of migrant workers in Russia to provide more help when their citizens face abuse in Russia, to cooperate with Russian authorities on investigations and prosecutions of abusive employers in Russia, and to establish clear and rigorous regulations for employment agencies that recruit in their countries.

    http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/02/10/russia-migrant-construction-workers-face-serious-abuses

    Comment by Andrew — February 23, 2011 @ 2:11 am

  14. SPW wrote: Apparently the reduction of Russian military conscript terms from one year to two…

    Well, going from one to two is not as much of a reduction as you think, Craig.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — February 23, 2011 @ 4:58 am

  15. @LR:

    Sechin thinks that Google caused Egypt? Preposterous! Facebook people should sue him for maliciously stealing their glory!

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/02/AR2011020206107.html

    Facebook treads carefully after its vital role in Egypt’s anti-Mubarak protests

    ///////////////////////////

    But why are YOU so angry? Do you own Facebook stock?

    Comment by Ostap Bender — February 23, 2011 @ 5:04 am

  16. Still, minorities do emigrate to Russia, and not the other way around. No matter how bad Russia is, it’s still better than Bumfuckistan.

    Comment by So? — February 23, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

  17. Well, Russians are emigrating in large numbers too. No matter how bad the US is, its still better than Vodkawifebashikov.

    Comment by Andrew — February 23, 2011 @ 11:19 pm

  18. But they don’t emigrate to the Bumfuckistans in the south, do they? (Some do contract work in Central Asia. The natives wouldn’t have running water and electricity otherwise).

    Comment by So? — February 24, 2011 @ 12:49 am

  19. Like I said, the US (and the EU, and Canada, NZ, Australia etc) are all better than your precious Vodkawifebashikov.

    Actually in the “south” if you mean the Caucasus, most contract work is done by westerners, who are trying to remedy 200 years of Russian incompetence.

    Central Asia is more to the east of Moscow.

    And as the article says, the vast majority of migrant workers have no desire to stay in Russia.

    Whereas in my homeland, we would love the Russian immigrants to eff off home, considering the delightful rise in violent and organised crime they brought with them is not particularly appreciated.

    Comment by Andrew — February 24, 2011 @ 2:11 am

  20. @So?

    That’s how it works: 1% of Russians emigrate to the West, 20% of Georgians emigrate to Russia… People always migrate to what they consider more civilized places.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — February 24, 2011 @ 4:29 am

  21. Population of Georgia in 1800 – a few hundred thousand. 1989 – 5 million. Those incompetent Russians. Can’t even get genocide right.

    Comment by So? — February 24, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

  22. That’s because they put Georgians – Stalin and Beria – in charge of genocides… 🙂

    Comment by Ostap Bender — February 24, 2011 @ 11:12 pm

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