Russia places limits on foreign labor in order to fight illegal immigration
Thousands of migrant workers from the Caucasus, Central Asia and China are leaving Russia as the government institutes tough new measures aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration.
Campaigners against illegal immigration are welcoming the measures, saying low-paid migrants were distorting the job market and taking work from Russian citizens. But critics say the moves are ill-advised because they will drive up retail prices and create a labor shortage that could hurt Russia's booming economy.
About 12 million people, mostly citizens of impoverished ex-Soviet republics who do not require a visa to enter the country, are currently working illegally in Russia, according to analysts.
The new rules set the quota for legal foreign workers at 6 million, while at same time imposing fines of up to $30,000 on companies that employ foreigners illegally. Also, as of this month, only 40 percent of workers in Russia's retail markets are allowed to be foreigners, and none should be by April 1.
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