Migration has own statistics
About 15,000 foreigners take permanent residence in the Republic of Belarus annually
By Maria Solonovich
If you visit a Belarusian construction site, factory or agricultural enterprise, you may see a variety of ethnicities, although far fewer than you would in Russia.
According to some calculations, there may be from 0.5 to 5 million illegal migrants working in Russia. They come in such numbers that they perhaps feel the separation from their homeland less acutely, with so many of their countrymen around. Of course, the situation is far from ideal, and can lead to criminality, as has recently been heard of in the Moscow micro-district of Biryulevo.
Belarus lacks as many foreigners, despite being tolerant and welcoming. As of the middle of this year, about 150,000 migrants held residence permits: most citizens of Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania. Just 12-14 foreigners take permanent residence in Belarus annually. The Head of the Institute of Economics at the National Academy of Sciences, Alexander Luchenok, tells us, “The majority of foreign workers are taking the place of former highly skilled local experts, who have gone to Russia in search of ‘easy’ money. I’m not sure that guests from Vietnam or Central Asia can replace our builders fully.”
Of course, personnel shortages need to be filled, even when low-skilled workers, in theory, take currency out of the country. In addition, foreign workers tend to arrive with their families, who then receive state support. The need to fill jobs exists not just in the capital, to which people are more readily attracted in search of well-paid employment and good living standards. In fact, there are plenty of towns countrywide in need of workers; they may open new, profitable and unique enterprises but many of their workers have already left and it’s difficult to attract them back again.
Annually, 1,900-2,200 people are deported — at a cost of nearly $80,000 last year. Some are foreign students who have no desire to return to their homeland, despite being expelled for poor progress. It happens with some regularity, requiring the institute to apply for a court order. Foreign communities do what they can to help but, in most cases, it falls to the state to pay for the deportee’s airfare: perhaps to China, Vietnam or Nigeria. After dispatch, the person in question may not return for up to 10 years and after deportation — up to 5 years; the established minimum is one year.