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#8 - JRL 9193 - JRL Home
From: Westerner living in St. Petersburg
Subject: RE: propiska system
Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2005

If I may share a thought --- one of your readers recently wrote that people are free to live and work where they choose in Russia. As in many cases, the law says one thing but practice is something else entirely. The propiska system (registration of citizens at a place of residence) determines if a person can legally be employed in a city. For many people, getting permanent or temporary registration is a heavy burden, and I know several people who can't get official employment because their propiska is in another city, and they don't have enough money to "buy" registration. This system, like so many things here, is a source of control over the population and is filled with corruption.

My understanding is that the propiska system was ruled to be unconstitutional several years ago, but it was never out-lawed. So, the people continue to groan under this burden. While the law says people are 'free' to work and live where they want, they are not indeed free. The government stifles the people with the propiska system, and that's one reason that Russia continues to decline, even though it has so much in it's favor.

I ask that you not share my name with anyone, though you are free to share my thoughts. There are reasons those of us who live in Russia may be concerned about the government having our name pop up as possible 'trouble makers.' One government official I spoke to on the phone told me to come to her office and talk in person, because, as she said, "there are people listening." I've sensed quite a bit more fear and apprehension among government officials that I work with (Education Committee, Tax Authorities, OVIR, etc) over the past couple of years. From my limited perspective here in St. Pete, things are quite different than they were 5 years ago. More fear, more corruption, more visible money in the hands of a few people, more shopping centers, fewer high-profile assasinations, with about the same general level of hopelessness.