(The St. Petersburg Times) - Russia hopes to attract up to 1 million Russian-speaking immigrants from former Soviet republics through a federal program offering passports and perks for relocating to remote areas of the country, a senior Kremlin official said Friday.
Those participating in the program will be counted in the hundreds of thousands, up to 1 million, said Modest Kolerov, the head of the Kremlin department for inter-regional and cultural ties with foreign countries, reports Trend.
Kolerov said he expected most immigrants to come from countries with large workforces but unstable economies, although he did not specify which countries.
The federal program, which is aimed at reversing Russias demographic crisis, will come into force next year, according to a presidential decree published last week. The federal government will cover the cost of resettling immigrants and provide loans to help them start new lives. It will also offer unemployment benefits for up to six months.
The Federal Migration Service will oversee the program and publicize it among potential immigrants abroad.
As a first step, groups of federal officials will be sent to Russian embassies in former Soviet republics to recruit potential immigrants and assist them in moving to Russia, the migration services deputy head, Mikhail Tyurkin, said at a conference Thursday. The officials will come from the migration service, the Health and Social Development Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, he added.
We wont string people along, but plan to explain to them clearly what benefits they will be entitled to when resettling, Tyurkin said.
Meanwhile, several of the 12 regions ordered by the presidential decree to report to the federal government about their labor shortages and preparedness to host immigrants by the end of this year have already begun to present initial figures.
The Far East region of Khabarovsk said it was ready to receive 3,000 immigrants, including 750 in the next two years, and could provide them with housing and jobs in the cities of Khabarovsk and Komsomosk-on Amur, Regnum.ru reported.
Irkutsk Governor Alexander Tishanin said his region was ready to receive 1,500 immigrants next year alone, the news agency said.
The Krasnoyarsk region estimated that it needed 10,000 immigrants just to develop Rosnefts new Vankor oil and gas field.