What prospect awaits Russians if all migrants are expelled from the country? Expert opinions.
What prospect awaits Russians if all migrants are expelled from the country? Expert opinions.

The President of Russia, in his speech at an extended meeting of the board of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said that the country was faced with the need to change its approach to migration policy, noting that illegal migration allows extremism. 

First of all, we need to ensure <...> the principle that only those who respect our traditions, language, culture, and history can come and live and work in Russia,” Putin said.

How are things going in the taxi industry?

However, experts note that in the taxi industry, up to 50% of drivers are foreign citizens, especially in the regions. If Russia refuses them and expels them from the country, this could lead to a shortage of drivers, higher prices for taxi services and problems for taxi companies.

Previously, foreign citizens worked mainly “at the menial level”, without the appropriate documents, but from September 1, 2023, they cannot work as taxi drivers without a patent and other necessary documents.

“It was originally supposed to be like this, but in fact it didn’t work, no one controlled it. The law is now in full force. In taxis, in this regard, things will become a little worse [if migrants refuse],” said Nikolai Kodolov, chairman of the Moscow Dobro taxi drivers’ union.

Today in this industry we see a shortage of drivers, Kodolov emphasized. According to him, if all labor migrants leave Russia at once, the shortage of taxi drivers will reach 10–20%, and “in some cities even more.”

“This will lead to higher prices and longer waits for a car. Taxi companies will also have problems, because they have cars, but there will be no one to drive them. In general, nothing good is expected if this wave starts and any specific actions are taken,” summed up the head of the trade union.

What about delivery?

Russian delivery services employ more than millions of couriers, but information on the proportion of migrants is not disclosed. Experts suggest the lack of migrants could lead to higher prices for delivery services and is expected to increase the cost of goods. This scenario, in their opinion, could also slow down processes in the delivery sector and reduce the profitability of aggregators, causing dissatisfaction with their shareholders.

“If we imagine hypothetically that they (migrants - Ed.) are gone, then aggregators will be forced to raise prices for their services and, accordingly, customers will pay more for delivery. All goods and services in those areas where migrants worked will become more expensive, which will add several percent per year to inflation in Russia,” said Ivan Weiss, founder of the Union of Russian Couriers project.

What about the construction site and the wipers?

The dominance of migrants in the housing and communal services sector is relatively typical in large cities, says Konstantin Krokhin, chairman of the Union of Housing Organizations of Moscow. He notes that in some cases, foreign workers officially occupy positions as janitors, but in fact prefer to work in more profitable categories, such as courier services and taxis. However, it is believed that it is quite possible to control a territory without migrants if wages are increased and social guarantees are provided for local residents.

“I believe that [at construction sites] there will be a large shortage of unskilled labor, which, unfortunately, is very difficult to do without. We are talking about giving a lift, removing, carrying, dragging,” Belousov asserts.

Without migrant workers, in his opinion, it will not be possible to quickly cope with the current situation due to the lack of cheap labor. Russians do not want to go to work for low wages, unlike foreign citizens.

“It will be necessary to create normal living conditions for workers. Migrants [unlike Russians] are content with little and are ready to live in trailers with minimal amenities. That is, it is necessary to provide staff with housing and transport, and salaries should be increased,” notes Belousov.

Chairman of the Board of the Union of Housing Organizations of Moscow Konstantin Krokhin believes that “the bulk of the regions of the Russian Federation are doing without migrants.”

As Krokhin reported, last winter the Moscow authorities reported that 135 thousand housing and communal services workers clean the city streets, that is, “more than 1000 people per district.” However, in reality there were not such a large number of janitors in the capital, he believes.

“It turns out that we are already living with a large number of “dead souls” in the housing and communal services sector, which are migrants. Will we cope in housing and communal services without migrants? We can handle it, we can handle it now,” the interlocutor said.

According to him, it is enough to raise the salaries of janitors to 60–70 thousand rubles, provide them with housing and social insurance, and then indigenous residents of the regions will flock to large cities.

“It was like that in the USSR, it worked great. It was called “limit” when construction workers, housing and communal services workers, and so on came to Moscow from other regions of the country. This is a form of social elevator,” summed up Krokhin.

There are also migrants in restaurants

According to Irina Zhukovskaya, an expert at the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Russia, workers in the domestic catering and restaurant business today account for at least 25% of migrants (including illegal ones). She does not exclude that this figure could reach 30–35%. However, she notes that the industry will survive their outflow if it suddenly happens.

“We will survive and get out. Let's build new schemes. We are like a dragon: our head is cut off, but it grows back. It may be difficult for a few months, but nothing will happen to the economy. There is a possibility that some restaurants will close, and thank God. The strongest survive,” noted Zhukovskaya.

In turn, restaurateur Stepan Mikhalkov said that the fast food industry cannot do without them at the moment:

“All fast food relies on migrants,” Mikhalkov emphasized.

“[The outflow of migrants] will lead to higher prices and wages. Everyone will chase employees, overpay, and so on. Some people can afford to increase wages without increasing staff. And some people can’t afford it because they work to the limit, because this is a business of very fine tuning. Now restaurants do not have the same profits as in the 2000s,” the restaurateur noted.

President of the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Russia Igor Bukharov expressed the opinion that the problem with personnel in the catering industry has existed for 40 years, but business is coping with it. Everyone else will cope too.


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