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Central Asia: Labor Migrants Could Abandon Russia for Europe

Russia may soon find itself struggling to attract labor migrants. The global economic crisis is making Russia a less appealing place to work and those currently in the country are leaving for better pay and conditions in Europe, demographers say.

"We know that [demand] for work permits has declined by 20 percent. It's not a collapse, but our colleagues in Tajikistan are much less willing to travel to Russia. This is understandable [?] tickets for the flight from Dushanbe to Moscow are $500. With no guarantee of employment [and the] high price of tickets many are not leaving home," said Nikita Mkrtchyan, a researcher at the Institute of Demography in Moscow.

"We run the risk of losing the most skilled workers, those who have gained the necessary skills in Russia are now in demand in Europe," the CA-News.org news agency quoted Mkrtchyan as saying on July 8.

Mikhail Denisenko, deputy director of the institute, noted that some European Union members, such as Estonia, are implementing programs at attract skilled laborers from Central Asia. "They welcome those who [work on] construction sites and in the public services in Russia, and people who know the Russian language," Denisenko said.

According to Human Rights Watch, there are between 4 and 9 million migrant workers in Russia, many of whom are employed illegally.

Central Asia: Labor Migrants Could Abandon Russia for Europe

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