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Integration policy and measures against xenophobia | Russian Federation |

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Integration policy and measures against xenophobia

Maria Nozhenko

/ 3 Minuten zu lesen

Despite its significant immigrant population, Russia lacks a coherent integration policy. One reason for this is that the majority of immigrants come from the FSU countries. They usually know the Russian language and are familiar with the historical and cultural background of the country.

Thus, politicians have assumed that they do not need any support for integration. A limited amount of government assistance has been made available to resettle ethnic Russian immigrants under the Federal Migration Programme. However, the assistance is so limited that many migrants do not bother to apply for it. The biggest problems faced by new arrivals are in securing housing and employment.

In the past ten years, xenophobia has been a growing problem in Russian society. The main reasons for it are the Chechen wars and the acts of terrorism in Moscow, Volgodonsk, Buinaks, and Beslan which happened between 1999 and 2004. As a result, many Russians fear that migrants from Caucasia and Muslim countries could be potential terrorists. Another reason for the growing xenophobia is the activity of radical nationalists. The collapse of the USSR and the loss of the superpower status served as a basis for mass feelings of deprivation. The idea of "Great Russia" is a basis for xenophobia in radical nationalistic ideology and has its embodiment in the slogan "Russia for Russians". The activity of radical nationalistic and neo-Nazi organisations is officially illegal, but the authorities have turned a blind eye to the public actions and also the acts of aggression against non-Russians, including the "native Russian citizens" with non-Slavic appearance. Acts of aggression – sometimes fatal – against foreigners are relatively common. Human rights organizations have expressed concern about this situation, and the issue has been discussed in public and political debates. In 2000, the government enacted a program entitled "The Forming of the Aims of Tolerant Perception and Preventive Measures against Extremism in Russian society" (Tolerance program). In spite of its title, the program did not contain effective measures for prevention of extremism and xenophobia. It was limited to the declaration of the necessity of tolerance education for the different social groups. A number of federal and regional Tolerance education programmes have been implemented in the meantime, but they are not sufficient to solve the problem of xenophobia in contemporary Russia. For example, the Tolerance Programme, which has been started in St. Petersburg is aimed at presenting the cultural diversity of the city´s population by means of many cultural events, but is unsuitable for preventing acts of aggression against foreigners.

Effective measures for the formation of tolerant attitudes towards migrants are still needed in contemporary Russia. According to an all-Russian survey of public opinion, only 12% respondents had a positive attitude towards immigrants, while 22% had negative or very negative attitudes. The roots of it are not only in the activity of radical nationalistic or neo-Nazis organizations; many Russian politicians have used anti-migrant rhetoric in their political programs. The migrant-phobia is also based on the belief that migrants contribute to different social problems, such as the spread of diseases or involvement in criminal activities, two beliefs that are held by nearly half of the inhabitants of large Russian cities.



  1. Flynn, M. (2003).

  2. De Tinguy, A. (2003).

  3. For example, the Russian chess player Sergey Nikolaev, who was Yakut by birth, was killed by neo-Nazis in Moscow in 2007. The killers were found guilty of racist crime and sentenced to three to ten years imprisonment only because of the activity of Russian and international human rights organizations.

  4. See: The National Human Development Report (2008), p. 102.

  5. Ibid. p. 104.

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