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Church leader calls for national conversation on immigration


Patriarch Kirill said the current situation with immigration in Russia poses a serious challenge to the country’s culture and traditions

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has expressed his concerns over the country’s influx of migrants, saying “the whole Russian world ‘is under threat’” until the country’s immigration policy is revised.

Patriarch Kirill said ethnic enclaves are emerging and actively developing in the largest cities of Russia, creating breeding grounds for corruption, organized crime and illegal immigration.

During the World Russian People’s Council, the patriarch said experience had proved that it was impossible to “come to terms with national diasporas and clans, who are ready not only to stand up for [one of their own] in order to save him from fair punishment under the law, but also to take revenge in every possible way on everyone who dares to appeal to law enforcement agencies when reporting a crime.”

The Patriarch suggested using the experience of other countries facing similar challenges in solving immigration problems. He has been critical of the idea of “embracing the consequences” of unregulated and unlimited arrivals, saying that many simply regard them as the side-effects of “the import of foreign labor” while admitting that it would be difficult for the Russian economy to cope with all the challenges it faces without the additions to the workforce.

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He said that the unregulated mass influx of migrants who don’t speak Russian, lack proper understanding of the country’s history and culture, traditions and customs, and are therefore unable and often unwilling to integrate into Russian society end up altering the looks of Russian cities, leading to the deformation of the legal, cultural and linguistic norms of the country.

The Patriarch has also emphasized that even a Russian passport does not exempt immigrants from the need to respect Russian society and traditions.

Earlier on Tuesday, special representative of the State Duma on migration and citizenship Konstantin Zatulin said Russia needs migrants, including from Central Asia and the Caucasus. According to him, there are two approaches to migration in the country. “The first viewpoint is to close the borders and immediately ban all migration. The second is to actively attract visitors from other countries as a workforce. The Russian government and business share the second approach,” he emphasized. “Let’s understand: we can’t do without them. There are 72 million workers in Russia today. Of them 3 million are official migrants. More than 2 million jobs are still vacant.”



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