Foreigners protest Russia registration change

15th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

A group of European businessmen wrote an anxious letter to President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday requesting changes to a new registration procedure that they fear may restrict future travel to Russia.

The new and little-noticed Russian law formally went into effect on Tuesday and will apply to the hundreds of thousands of European Union and other foreign citizens living in Russia.

Any foreigner working in Russia had previously needed to register with the migration authorities through their employer.

But the new rule put that burden on the foreigner's landlord -- a seemingly minor switch that may severely complicate workers' ability to find a place to stay in Russia.

The Association of European Businesses (AEB) noted that the switch may limit the number of landlords willing to officially rent their apartments to foreigners and lead to higher prices and other bureaucratic hassles.

"We are exceedingly worried about this change introduction, which was passed without consultation with (the) international community in the Russian Federation," AEB chief executive Frank Schauff said in a statement.

Russian authorities frequently change their travel requirements to the point of various ministries and agencies at times being unaware which procedures are in place on any given day.

The latest change came amid both government efforts to crack down on tax cheats and the Kremlin's drive to get the European Union to revoke the existing entrance visa requirements for Russian travellers.

But the AEB argued that foreign workers were falling victim to broader policy issues and that the new procedure added to the bureaucratic red tape that Medvedev has repeatedly vowed to do away in the past.

"This measure contradicts the long-term objectives of the Russian government for the modernisation of the Russian economy and liberalisation of the migration legislation for foreign investors," Schauff said.

© 2011 AFP

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