In recent years, the number of migrants officially registered in the Russian capital has been growing at a particularly rapid rate. In 2010 and 2011, according to state statistics, about 125,000 people arrived in Moscow. In 2012, the figure was over 200,000. Judging by the current data, last year’s record will be broken in 2013. Between January and August, 147,000 people moved to Moscow. This is almost 38% more than for the same period in 2012. Since 2008, according to the official statistics, the population of Moscow has increased by almost 800,000 – more than 7%. This is as if all of one of the ten largest cities in the country had moved to the capital.
Who is coming to Moscow? According to the official statistics, the lion’s share of the migrants comes from the Russian regions. Data for the first six months of 2013 show that of the total number of migrants, 90% arrived right here. Immigrants from the CIS countries only comprised 7% of the total. Of course, this is only according to official statistics. In Moscow, as in several other European capitals, there is an acute problem of illegal migration. This problem was particularly marked in 2012, and the Moscow administration took a number of steps to solve it. But of course, it is not a simple matter. It is a long-term process, dependent on the political will of the Federal authorities.
According to the official statistics, the lion’s share of the migrants comes from the Russian regions.
At the present time, the real situation is this. According to UN estimates, confirmed by the Federal Migration Service, the total number of migrants (including illegal ones) in Russia is 11 million. FMS data show that there are about one million migrants from other states living in Moscow, and a further 1.5 million in Moscow oblast.
Thus, in the past five years, the total number of inhabitants of the Moscow conurbation has increased by no less than 20%. What does this mean? First of all, a tremendous growth in the capacity of the capital’s consumer goods and services market, and consequently in the capitalisation of all Moscow assets in any way connected with servicing the requirements of the city’s population and those of the surrounding regions. On the other hand, the strain on the transport and social infrastructure has increased sharply, leading to an increase in investments in developing it, both from the Moscow treasury and from private-state partnerships of various kinds. Obviously, both these factors create additional opportunities for business, including from the West, and these opportunities cannot be overestimated.
In the past five years, the total number of inhabitants of the Moscow conurbation has increased by no less than 20%.
The strategy of the Moscow authorities on migration is not to permit the formation of closed ethnic enclaves. Until recently, most of the migrants from the countries of the former USSR were citizens who were born and grew up in the Soviet era. And a considerable portion of these were non-native inhabitants of the republics of the former USSR which had become independent states.
Now the situation has changed. The “new migrants” have arrived, and they are quite different. There is a very large influx of migrants from Uzbekistan, the largest state in terms of population on the territory of the former USSR in Central Asia. They are young people who have grown up in conditions of independence, as a rule with insufficient education, and unable to find a place for themselves in present-day Uzbekistan. And they represent a serious source of social and even political risks. It is not only nationalist groups which have adopted an anti-immigration agenda in recent years, but also some of the Moscow middle class. To all appearances, the Russian and Moscow authorities will have to implement a double strategy, tested in Soviet times in controlling the migration influx of Vietnamese citizens who came to work in the industrial enterprises of Moscow and the adjacent regions. Employers will be responsible for those invited, and for creating acceptable living conditions for them. After the end of their contracts, the migrants are obliged to leave the country.
In principle, this strategy is in accordance with the intentions of most of those arriving from Uzbekistan. But it is hard to expect that these intentions will not change in the course of living and working in the Russian capital. Accordingly, the authorities will have to expend a lot of effort and money to raise the educational level of the migrants. Work on these lines is already going on. A whole network of education centres for migrants has been created. It is true that raising their level of education still further weakens the migrants’ desire to return to their homeland, where in conditions of a stagnating economy, patriarchal tendencies are just becoming stronger. But the integration processes will be intensified, and it is quite possible that a considerable number of these new migrants will also join the ranks of the taxpaying population of the capital region, expanding the consumer capacity of the market.
The market for consumer goods and services of the capital region can expect a considerable expansion. It is the task of business, including foreign business, to satisfy this market.
However that may be, in the medium term, the market for consumer goods and services of the capital region can expect a considerable expansion because of the constant influx of migrants. It is the task of business, including foreign business, to satisfy this market. Ideally, illegal immigration should be stopped and legal immigration carefully regulated. If this is achieved, all forms of business concerned with consumer goods and services will gain from the influx of migrants, since the competition climate will become much less fierce than in the long established Western markets. And only foreign entrepreneurs will be able to value this at its proper worth.