A new draft law makes it the responsibility for regional authorities to prevent ethnic clashes and disputes and allows the dismissal of top officials who fail to do so.
The bill adds to the duties of the heads of both legislative and executive branches of power and makes them responsible for the prevention of discrimination on the basis of race, religion or language, and also for social and cultural adaptation of immigrants.
If regional governors can't keep a lid on ethnic tension they could be dismissed. The current version of the bill differs from the initial suggestion from a group of regional legislators who last year said regional leaders should be fined or even jailed if they allow ethnic conflicts to take place.
The initial document met strong opposition from a number of regional officials who said that the present legislation was already strict enough and from Human Rights officials who said the Federal Security Service should take all responsibility for the failure to oppose radical nationalism.
At least 185 ethnic groups currently coexist in the Russian Federation and the sharp rise in domestic and cross border migration has led to a rise in ethnic tension. The authorities are taking a number of measures to improve the situation, from the recent legislative initiative to the suggestions to found and sponsor a state PR agency specializing only in ethnic issues.
According to the Wednesday report by the Federal Migration Service over 10 million foreign citizens currently live and work in Russia with official permits and an additional 3 million stay in the country illegally.
The increased number of labor migrants especially in large cities has prompted the suggestions to set up neighborhood watch teams that work together with police and fight illegal migration. The Federal Migration Service said it supported the initiative and suggested it should be introduced all over the country.
Last year Russian police uncovered several gangs of radical nationalists who attacked and even killed migrants. For example, about a dozen skinheads were sentenced last year in the city of Chelyabinsk, Urals Region, for attacking immigrants from Central Asia, filming the killings and posting grizzly videos on YouTube. Last year six members of a skinhead gang received lengthy sentences in Moscow over similar crimes.
In early February this year Moscow police said they detained
four young men suspected of a racist attack against a Kyrgyzstan
citizen. One of the detained was charged with the murder of another
foreigner in January.
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