February 23, 2011

NG: Xenophobia attitudes grow in Ukraine

Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Social Policy Sergey Tigipko has recently stated about the need to increase administrative responsibility for the enterprises which hire illegal aliens. “It’s necessary to beat with the help of grivna, serious fines”, he explained. Experts say that nothing but economic enforcement actions from the government side will complicate another problem: increase of xenophobia in the society.

Ukraine is the only country in Europe which does not have a state conception of illegal migration countermeasure and has not even created a special state authority which would deal with this problem. Now this problem is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The police apprehend 3-5 thousand illegal migrants every year. They pay administrative fines.

Then, in most of the cases, they promote a certificate about a submitted inquiry regarding political asylum which defends a foreign alien from deportation and at the same time gives him a possibility to travel within the territory of Ukraine for several months. Most of all the tracks of apprehended people disappear.

Meanwhile, as the UNO data demonstrate, the inflow of illegal aliens to Ukraine has increased in around 20 times during the last decade. If before the county was considered as a temporal refuge before the sprint to EU or Russia, during the last years a lot of entrants settle in Ukraine. The UNO considers that there are around 7 million of illegal migrants who live in the country now.

The problem became more complicated when Viktor Yushchenko was a president who agreed to sign the Agreement on readmission between Ukraine and EU. According to the document, from the beginning of the previous year Ukraine has obligated to readmit all the citizens who illegally got to EU from the Ukrainian territory.

For today the situation is frozen: official Kiev has managed to persuade EU to postpone the process of mass readmission till 2012 when, as it was planned before, a migration service will be created in the country. Rights advocates hope that starting from that moment it will be possible to put things in order at least in statistics. As a matter of fact, now the State Statistics Service registers only the quantity of foreign citizens who had visited the country during the year. Last year their quantity exceeded 21 million. Experts think that with Euro 2012 approaching the number of entrants will increase. And nobody knows how many of them will want to go back to their motherland and who will be lost in Ukraine.

In established conditions Ukraine headily turns into a grey zone of illegal migration, the Parliament of Ukraine, which prepared several drafts of bills that make the legislature in this sphere more rigorous,  declared about this last year. One of them was passed at the beginning of this year, however, president Viktor Yanukovich didn’t sign it having sent it for revision. The deputy Yuriy Karmazin explained that the problem becomes more complicated every year such as in Ukraine, as it used to be in Russia, appear microdistricts-communities a large amount of which is involved not just in illegal business, but in criminal business.

Vice Prime Minister Tigipko confirmed that immense problems are waiting for the country in the future. He thinks that to solve this matter the experience of Slovakia should be studied, the country which has developed a plan how to deal with shady wages and illegal employment. The deputy Karmazin has agreed before that the problem has economic roots: illegal migrants increase the level of unemployment, use all the social benefits, but do not pay taxes. He has pointed out that this very fact causes hostility in the society, that’s why we need to look at this problem broader – the government has to work out an integral policy regarding migratory processes.

There is no a special program at the moment and the level of intolerant attitude towards the entrants is increasing. Denis Kobzin, an expert from Kharkov Institute of Social Researches has recently stated that skinhead groups have appeared in Ukraine, the country which has been glorious by tolerance. The police statistics demonstrate that the confrontation is increasing: 16 cases of attacks of foreign people were registered in 2006, in 2007 – 88 victims, one year later – 85 more, and the year before – around 40 cases. However, these figures are quite relative, such as very often xenophobia cases are classified as family fights, there is no separate statistics. But sociological surveys indicate disturbing tendencies: according to the Institute of Gorshenin data, 60% of Ukrainians consider appearance of interethnic conflicts in the country to be a real danger. Other surveys indicate that from 200 to 400 thousand Ukrainians are not just apprehensive about conflicts or share views of skinheads, but are ready to deal with illegal migration personally joining in with equally illegal unions and organizations.

Apprehensions are confirmed by informative chronicle: last year there were several arsons organized in Kiev on several markets where mostly the migrants from China and Vietnam work. The community of gypsies has reported about the attack on their camping-ground in the suburbs of Kiev. In summer Crimean Dzhankoy has almost become a hot spot of Ukraine because of the murder of a 5 year old boy in which a Crimean Tatar was accused. Local authority and administration of Majlis of Crimean Tatar people with massive efforts managed to calm down the local population having proved that nationality in this case didn’t matter.

On the 1st of January, 2011 Ukrainian media were announcing disturbing reports from Nikopol where a mass fight, ended with death of two people, outgrew into a confrontation between Slavic population of the city and natives of Caucasus. The authority has managed to douse this fire as well, but nobody knows where it will break out next time.

On the West of Ukraine the protest against the transformation of the region into a sinker for illegal migrants is increasing. Two years ago the population of Mukachevo achieved their purpose to liquidate a camping-ground for illegal migrants. This year the population of a frontier city of Chop has organized protest actions demanding that the authorities would get rid of the idea to construct a new unit for temporal keeping of illegal aliens. Ukrainians increasingly frequently begin to perceive entrants not as competitors or freeloaders, but as a potential threat.

A new movement against illegal immigration has appeared in the country. Its leader Yaroslav Dunayev has told in detail in one of his interviews which illegal communities are involved in certain kinds of criminal business. He considers the situation to be one of the main threats for national security of the country and proposes migratory policy authorities to refuse from the top-priority task to protect national minorities and to make the corner-stone the interests of our own citizens. “A circumspect policy is needed which has to determine – who exactly do we need? Is it an illiterate donkeyman who will sell “weed” because of absence of another specialty or a high-grade engineer, IT specialist? Is it a cannibal from Central Africa or a businessman who wants to invest money into the development of industry?”, he said.

Tatiana Ivzhenko “Nezavisimaya Gazeta”