Loyalty test for foreigners entering Russia

The Bell

The Russian authorities have figured out how to force foreigners living in Russia to comply and abide by Moscow’s worldview — a loyalty pledge. The Interior Ministry wants to force foreigners to sign a “loyalty agreement” when they enter the country, agreeing to obey Russian laws that “protect national interests” during their stay.

  • The draft law aims to prevent foreigners from discrediting the Russian government, “promoting non-traditional sexual relationships” or questioning “the feats of the Soviet people in defending the fatherland and its contribution to the victory over fascism” during the Second World War. They also want to prevent foreigners from “showing disrespect” to “traditional Russian spiritual and moral values.”
  • In another draft initiative, the Interior Ministry is trying to appear as if it is stepping up pressure on illegal migrants, with proposals to stop them transferring money, getting a driving license, operating vehicles, getting married or registering property. They will also have to inform the authorities of their whereabouts and their planned route out of Russia. 
  • Officially, the bill is about imposing new restrictions on illegal immigrants, but in reality it establishes a legal framework that allows them to stay in Russia, albeit with severe limitations. This may be linked to Russia’s severe labor shortage and fears that migrant workers will choose to leave as the ruble falls.

Why the world should care:

In one sense, the authorities have come up with a mechanism that theoretically could replenish Russia’s workforce by establishing a legal basis for illegal migrants. But it also obliges migrants to adhere to Russia’s worldview, and reject any ideological criticism of the country in which they live and work.


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