Despite a nationwide labor shortage, Russian regions are further restricting the types of jobs migrants can hold — Meduza

Russia is currently facing a historic labor shortage that could tip the balance on its precarious wartime economy. Nevertheless, authorities in many regions have been imposing more and more restrictions on the types of jobs migrant workers can pursue. While some areas already had prohibitions in place, others began introducing bans following the arrest of four Tajikistani citizens in connection with the deadly March 22 terrorist attack in Moscow. According to a new report from Agentstvo, these restrictions primarily target sectors such as taxi services and trade.

Local authorities in Russia’s Kamchatka Krai have prohibited foreigners who come to Russia to seek employment from working as taxi drivers. This ban reflects a broader trend across Russian regions, where restrictions on the types of jobs available to economic migrants are becoming more common. Twenty-eight Russian regions and annexed Crimea have already imposed limitations on the sectors where foreigners with work permits can seek employment, reports Agentstvo.

The most prevalent restriction is on employment in the taxi and rideshare sector, which is enforced in 27 regions. Approximately 18 regions have placed restrictions on migrant employment in the trade sector, including bans on selling alcohol, tobacco, and certain food items. Additionally, some regions prohibit migrants from working in hospitality, catering, libraries, and financial services.

‘If you’re Tajik, cancel the order’ Central Asians in Russia face new wave of threats and discrimination following Moscow terrorist attack

‘If you’re Tajik, cancel the order’ Central Asians in Russia face new wave of threats and discrimination following Moscow terrorist attack

Agentstvo found that nearly half of the regions implementing these restrictions introduced them only in 2024. Four of these places — Crimea, the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, and the Novosibirsk and Novgorod regions — implemented the restrictions following the deadly March 22 terrorist attack in Moscow, where the main suspects were Tajikistani citizens. Since the attack, people with Central Asian ancestry in Russia have been reporting increased discrimination. Law enforcement also cracked down on migrant communities, conducting the largest raids since at least 2013, and the Russian authorities began tightening immigration legislation.

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At least four more Russian regions are preparing to introduce measures limiting job opportunities for migrants. The governor of the Orenburg region has already published a draft decree on the matter, while officials in Russia’s Vologda and Saratov regions have publicly announced their intentions to implement work restrictions. In the Astrakhan region, law enforcement has proposed banning foreigners from driving minibuses and taxis.

These tightening measures on migrant employment come against the backdrop of a historic labor shortage in Russia, which Central Bank head Elvira Nabiullina has called the main problem facing the country’s economy. The unemployment rate in Russia in 2023 was the lowest in recorded history. In May 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized the need to create “financial, social, and other mechanisms for preserving human capital and reducing emigration abroad.”

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