The way towards an efficient migration policy should go through the solution of major Russia’s problems: separation of business from government, building of a law-governed and democratic state, said YABLOKO leader Sergei Mitrokhin at the opening of an international conference on Migration. The conference, organized by the YABLOKO party and the ALDE party was held in Moscow on April 6.

According to Sergei Mitrokhin, the present labour laws fail to balance the interests of the employee and the employer, and virtually protects only the employer. "Where slave labour is welcome, it will oust all other forms of labour which will have its consequences," Sergei Mitrokhin said.

Those who suffer from this are not only migrant workers, but also Russian workers ousted from the labour market by cheaper labour migrants and Russian pensioners who do not receive solidarity payments to the pension fund, and the Russian society as a whole, as the rise of ethnic-based nationalism is dangerous for our multinational country,” he noted.

Mitrokhin also quoted official statistical data: Russian Vice Premier Olga Golodets announced that 38 million of the 70 million employees working in non-transparent conditions “were employed nobody knew where and how". "In these conditions, any migration policy will resemble the texts of plays from the theatre of absurd," said YABLOKO leader. According to Mitrokhin, the task of liberals and democrats in these conditions should be to "develop solutions and approaches close to reality in the midst of this absurdity".

Mitrokhin also noted that migration policy should be based on such values as human rights, equality and respect to the individual. "When workers cease being slaves, their work will be expensive, and will no longer be so attractive to predatory businesses and so destructive to our economy, society and the state," said Sergei Mitrokhin.

Grigory Yavlinsky, YABLOKO founder and member of YABLOKO’s Political Committee, agreed that Russia, with its widespread corruption, had been demonstrating a strong economic interest so that the situation with migration would remain as it was. Construction, trade and service companies using slave labour and governmental structures associated with them are interested in this.

According to Yavlinsky, all of the problems have been rooted in the political and economic systems created in Russia in the past 20 years by Boris Yeltsin and then by Vladimir Putin. YABLOKO’s task would be development and implementation of a comprehensive alternative to the system.

In his speech Yavlinsky also spoke of the importance of the European experience with displaced persons and refugees. Russia would inevitably face this problem after the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan, Yavlinsky noted.

Sir Graham Watson, ALDE party President, welcomed the conference participants. Astrid Thors, Vice-President of the ALDE party, delivered a key report on migration in the globalised world and the liberal approach to the migration policy.

Four panel discussions were held within the framework of the conference: “Migration dynamics and its political, economic and cultural consequences”, “Integration of migrants of the first and further generations: positive and negative experience”, “Restraining and regulatory mechanisms: different countries’ experiences and international cooperation” and “Regulation of migration: the tasks of the state and the society”. The reports were made by Russian and foreign experts and politicians.