Moscow, Russia is implementing a new law as of today, which will ban all foreigners from working in the country's retail market. The move will affect several sectors and areas, where tens of thousands of citizens from the former Soviet Republics have traditionally been employment. Human rights groups have criticised the law as unjust and unworkable.
From mid-January until April 1 non-Russians were still allowed to work as sales staff in shops and markets, provided they made up no more than 40 per cent of employees.Now they are banned completely.
The Federal Migration Service said mass inspections will begin throughout Russia April 2.
According to the VTsIOM pollster, 27% of respondents have noticed a price hike at food and clothes markets, and 21% have complained of a shortage of various goods, authorities said the price rise was due to a seasonal trend, and have denied any shortages.
Maxim Topilin, head of the Federal Service for Employment and Labor Relations, said wages were growing in the retail market sector.
"This is the result of our measures to bar illegal immigrants from the markets. For instance, wages doubled in Novosibirsk [West Siberia]," the official said.
Some experts said the measures are discriminatory. They noted that they could affect relations with members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a union of 12 ex-Soviet republics that provide Russia with most of its foreign labor force, and could prompt more race-hate attacks.
The Federal Migration Service said last year that over 20 million people come to Russia every year as part of a post-Soviet "migration boom," and that half of those are in the country illegally.