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Russia keeps seeing refugees as a problem not a blessing
Source: Ren TV, Moscow, in Russian 1050 gmt 9 Dec 01

[Presenter Igor Prokopenko] There is a new disaster in Russia - refugees coming from Chechnya, Tajikistan and even Afghanistan. Nobody knows what to do with them.

[Correspondent] Over nine million refugees have come to Russia within the last 10 years. About eight per cent of them have an official status thus they can't count on though scanty, privileges. Others have to survive themselves.

As a rule they are qualified professionals and much younger that an average population of dying out Russia. However, instead of working and bringing in profit they have to hide from the police.

[Lidiya Grafova, the chairwoman of the executive committee of the Forum of Resettlement Organizations, captioned] We were told that 0.001 per cent of displaced persons get an official status of a refugee in Moscow. If somebody came and committed a crime why our unfortunate fellow-countrymen have something to do with it and have to suffer?

[omitted: general information about refugees]

[Correspondent] [?Hasra Ayubi] is an artist of Afghan TV, his wife is a foreign affairs journalist. They have been wandering all over Russia for almost 10 years. They have not yet managed to get used to their new life. All they have is a wonderful music and two instruments. They don't have a status of a refugee. The whole family lives here illegally. They have hardly managed to get their children into school. They can't earn their living by trading and to find a good job is impossible. They do not want to complain about their situation as living here is in any case better than in their native country.

[?Makhammuzaira, the deputy chairman of the union of Afghans, captioned in broken Russian] They are the people who used to work in the Afghan government. They are civilized and literate people who were fighting shoulder to shoulder against their own people those who are now part of the Northern Alliance.

[Correspondent] Refugees are trying to control their fellow-countrymen. Though these documents can be considered an arrest warrant as such agency does not exist anymore.

[Grafova] Criminals can easily buy Russian passports but miserable old ladies and families with many children [changes tack] say from Kazakhstan, over one million people have left it by now.

[omitted: general problems of refugees]

[Correspondent] There are only three centres for temporary accommodation of immigrants in Russia. One of them is in the Rostov Region and is considered to be the best. There are even special national food on a menu here. It corresponds to the time of the year and religious holidays.

But outside prosperity does not solve multiple problems. The thing is that even after getting an official status these people can't get a job according to their skills - our state considers it a disgrace to extend a helping hand to a stranger, especially to accept a refugee as a skilled professional. Even getting a status becomes a problem for them in our country. Many personal files are usually started to check on and identify a person. For example to prove one's identity some had to draw a detailed map of Kabul.

[Grafova] In 1990 I interviewed US Ambassador to Russia Mr. [Jack] Matlock. We had only 300,000 refugees back then. They were Armenians from Baku. He wondered then why such a huge country couldn't receive 300,000 immigrants. [He said] that the USA has always been taking immigrants as it is good for the country. Refugees, migrants is always an influx of new energy to society. This is really so - it is profitable for the country, it is a free capital.

[Correspondent] Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees who live in Russia have higher education. If all of them worked according to their skills Russia would have saved dozens of million of dollars. That's the amount of money needed to train the number of professionals that Afghan community [in Russia] can bring right now.

[Presenter] Meanwhile in the near future Russia expects an influx of its former citizens. Russia's representative in Kabul said that about 20,000 former Russian citizens who some time ago left for the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan are now anxious to get back home.

[Video shows an Afghan artist, his musical instruments, family, a centre for migrants in Rostov Region]

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