06/21/2010, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Moscow issues code of conduct for immigrants to facilitate integration

by Nina Achmatova
Among the rules: do not kill animals in public, speak Russian and do not wear traditional clothing of countries of origin. The Code will be completed by the end of 2010. For Gavkhar Dzurayeva, head of the migration Centre, it is absurd "to reduce integration to a matter of clothes, eating habits and behavioural problems and be silent on the exploitation of migrant workers.

Moscow (AsiaNews)-The Moscow authorities are preparing a code of conduct for foreigners arriving in the Russian capital. What is already known as the " Moscow Code " will include a non-binding set of rules which seek to "promote the integration of immigrant applicants for permanent residence in the city." Among the rules: do not kill animals in public, speak Russian and do not wear traditional clothing of countries of origin. The initiative is also supported by the Russian Orthodox Church, but there are already those who warn of the risk of trivializing the debate to the detriment of the real problems associated with migration.

According to "Radio Echo of Moscow", the code – which will be completed later this year – is being drawn up by the Council in collaboration with the Russian Diaspora and with a group of experts. "There are unwritten rules that residents must follow, such as not to go around in traditional clothes that attract attention, speak Russian and not kill sheep in their backyard (the reference is to the Muslim community, for example, during 'Id-ul-Azha which commemorates Abraham’s decision to sacrifice his son Isaac, with the symbolic sacrifice of a goat being slaughtered publicly, ed), "says Mikhail Solomentsev, head of the municipal committee for interregional cooperation and national policies. "Now we want to develop a code to accelerate the integration of immigrants seeking permanent residency in Moscow."

Contacted by the newspaper "The Moscow Times", representatives of the Russian Diaspora support the initiative, as long as it does not violate the right to follow traditions.  Gavkhar Dzurayeva, Head of the Migration and Law Centre, says it is absurd "to reduce integration to a matter of clothes, eating habits and behaviour”, with the risk of overshadowing the most pressing problems, like the "treatment of migrant workers."

The initiative of the Moscow municipality has also gained the support of leaders of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate. "The idea is right - says Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Synodal Department for Relations between church and state - certainly any such document must be balanced and serious." The need, however, is not to introduce a special law, but "discuss and publish some rules to follow when, for example at work, when a foreigner is given an important position, or in the case of residency”, said Chaplin.

Patriarch Cyril has spoken several times on immigration, suggesting the State adopt measures for integration, including lessons in Russian language culture and religion. For the Orthodox Church, the issue is closely linked to population decline that afflicts the country. Last month, following data that showed a slight increase in the birth rate, the Patriarch had hoped that "the tendency would stabilize and our people rather than foreigners with an alien culture and faith, will inhabit the vast lands received in inheritance from God and our ancestors. "

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