Foreign Policy Blogs

Remittances Drawing Down, Violence Rising Up

rus.jpgAs the worldwide economic downturn continues it is showing its frightful face in many ways.  The World Bank has just reported that worldwide remittances, money sent from immigrants back to their homeland, are drammatically slowing down and causing further impoverishment for the families back home.  This is especially serious for the Central Asian states as a significant minority of the region's citizens depend upon this money coming in to live a decent life.

The countries of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan are in especially vulnerable position as remittances from their relatives in Russia are not coming in like the used to.  The Russian economy is in rapid decline, and with oil and gas prices staying low, it could be a longterm issue.  There are millions of Tajiks, Uzbeks, and other Central Asian citizens in Moscow and other Russian cities looking for any work they can get and this downturn has made employment harder and harder to find.  Many of the CA immigrants who cannot find work are headed home empty handed.

To make matters worse, Russian Xenophobia is on the rise again and this time government officials are helping foment the anger and violent actions.  Just days before Christmas, a group of skinheads shot and then beheaded 20 year old Tajik Salokhiddin Azizov and sent a picture of his decapitated head to human rights groups.  For the year 2008, there were over 100 immigrant killings in Russia and this incident and the continual economic crisis do not bode well for the year ahead.  Making matters even more unstable is recent comments by a member of the Russian Duma and Moscow's Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, each advocating restricting immigration to ‘fight radical Islam’ and to open up jobs for Russian citizens.  Though the Russian state has made some law enforcement moves to curtail and hold accountable those who committ anti-immigrant crime, they are obviously not doing enough and may actually be tacitly approving of such actions, possibly to take heat of themselves for the poor economic situation.

This makes a strong case against authoritarian governments, as it shows that Russian society, under this current system, is unable to have a real debate about the issue.  There seems to be no outlet for the people to express their frustrations, so they are using violence.  Kyrgz migrant Ovazbek Imonaliyev, 23, stated ‘I move through Moscow like a hunted beast.’  This is the year 2009, humans should not be ‘hunted beasts.’  The situation for the CA immigrants seems untenable in Moscow, but economic necessity will keep many of them there. 

(Photo: Russian convicted of murdering immigrants: Source: Associated Press)

 

Author

Patrick Frost

Patrick Frost recently graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science - International Relations. His MA thesis analyzed the capabilities and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Central Asia and beyond and explored how these affected U.S. interests and policy.

Areas of Focus:
Eurasia, American Foreign Policy, Ideology, SCO

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