Russia backs Language Test for Foreign Workers

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat May 5 13:48:33 UTC 2007

Russia Backs Language Test for Foreign Workers

Posted on 05/04/2007 12:04:05 PM PDT by RedDogzRule

MOSCOW -- Russian immigration chiefs on Friday proposed compulsory
language tests for foreigners wanting to work in Russia, the latest in a
series of measures to tighten up on immigration. A huge influx of migrant
workers, many of them Muslims from ex-Soviet republics, has caused
resentment inside Russia and many policy-makers say it has contributed to
a spate of racially motivated attacks. The Federal Migration Service said
it supported a draft law written by two pro-Kremlin members of parliament
that would set a language test for anyone planning to work in Russia for
more than one year.

"We have an interest in this and support the lawmakers' initiative," the
service said in a statement. "It is obvious that without knowledge of the
Russian language it is impossible to integrate into Russian society."
Several Western states have language requirements in their immigration
rules. But in most cases it is only people seeking permanent residency, or
skilled workers, who need to sit a language test. Alexander Krutov, a
lawmaker with the pro-Kremlin Just Russia party and one of the two authors
of the draft law, said the only exception would be for foreigners working
in Russia for foreign firms.

He said all other would-be migrant workers should sit a test on their
proficiency in Russian within three months of arriving. If they fail, they
will not be allowed to work and will be given the option of sitting the
test again. "Knowing the Russian language . . . will lead to a reduction
in the level of xenophobia and ethnic tension because a person will be
able to explain and understand what is wanted from him and what is going
on around him,"  Krutov told Reuters. To become law, the proposal would
have to be approved by both houses of parliament and President Vladimir

Russia has revamped its immigration rules to deal with the large numbers
of foreigners wanting to work in its booming economy. The new measures
streamlined procedures for people seeking temporary work permits. But they
also barred foreigners from working in outdoor markets, a sector dominated
by immigrants from ex-Soviet states such as Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.


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