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9 Aug, 2013 11:13

Duma nationalist MP urges universal fingerprinting of travelers

Duma nationalist MP urges universal fingerprinting of travelers

As Russian, and especially Moscow city, authorities hold a fresh campaign of fighting illegal immigration, the nationalist LDPR suggests introducing obligatory fingerprinting for all travelers – Russians and foreigners – staying in cities.

Existing Russian laws demand registration with the Federal Migration service for both non-citizens who arrive in the country and citizens who travel away from their place of permanent residence for more than a week.

State Duma MP Roman Khudyakov (LDPR) has prepared a bill which would order anyone registering in a city or town to also undergo fingerprinting and have their data stored in a special database.

According to Khudyakov’s bill, violators of these rules would be fined 50,000 rubles (US$1,500) and if they are foreigners – extradited from Russia with a 15-year ban on re-entering the country (the current laws only order a five-year entry ban).

The sponsor of the bill has told Izvestia daily that this measure would help to fight against the widespread practice of illegal migrants either using counterfeit registration papers, or buying real ones from corrupt officials who turn a blind eye to various violations.

The MP said that he had planned to suggest the new procedure only for Russia’s two largest cities – Moscow and St. Petersburg – but later decided to make the law universal as this would make life easier for law enforcers.

At the same time the lawmaker noted that he understood the sensitivity and importance of the topic.

We must be open for migrants - and first of all for our former compatriots who seek to return to their motherland. But we must not create anarchy, but instead try to build an organized migration system” Khudyakov told the paper.

The initiative was made public as authorities in Moscow and other major Russian cities launched a major campaign against illegal immigrants. The situation reached its climax after an incident at one of Moscow’s markets in which a small group of plain-clothes police had to endure a fistfight with traders as they attempted to detain a man suspected of raping an underage girl. One of the agents ended up in hospital with a cracked skull and his attacker was detained as he tried to flee to his home region, the southern Russian Republic of Dagestan.

The City of Moscow is readying for a mayoral poll that is due in early September, and it is no wonder that the scandal immediately hit the headlines and drew comments from local and national leaders.

President Vladimir Putin blasted the capital’s law enforcement over alleged corruption and soon several officers who worked at the infamous market were put in custody and faced charges of criminal negligence.

The city authorities promised that the whole market would soon be razed and a highway will be built in its place.

The Federal Migration Service and Moscow police then launched a crackdown on illegal migration, raiding the city’s markets, construction sites, dormitories and tenements. Hundreds of people were detained and officials had to organize tent camps for those awaiting extradition.

Human Rights activists and some foreign embassies have voiced concern over the situation, but Russian officials promised that they soon would create the rules for the camps and the laws regulating their work and status.

According to Word Bank estimates, the number of registered migrant workers in Russia amounts to about 12 million, with the majority living and working in large cities. Only about 2 million of them are officially registered.