Russia and Uzbekistan strike migration deals

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The head of Russia's migration service announced on 11 July 2007 that his country and Uzbekistan have signed three migration deals.

Konstantin Romodanovsky stated that the first readmission agreement would simplify the deportation of illegal migrants.

The second agreement involved cooperation in combating illegal immigration by creating practical mechanisms and laying down a legal framework for preventing illegal immigration.

<$adv0>The third deal is an agreement on migrant labor and the protection of migrant's rights, designed to 'streamline' the labor markets in Russia and Uzbekistan. It will set out employer's rights and obligations regarding migrant workers.

According to Romodanovsky, Uzbekistan is the third largest source of migrant workers in Russia, tied with Tajikistan and following Ukraine and Kazakhstan. An estimated 500,000 Uzbek migrant workers came to Russia in 2006.

The deals may also be part of an effort for Uzbekistan to crack down on "illegal labor emigration" from its borders.

Uzbekistan recently introduced new measures in tracking its workers abroad, including a fee reduction for those wishing to get the permit required for doing so. At the same time, the Statistical Agency and Customs Committee have been instructed to issue quarterly reports on the numbers of citizens moving abroad as well as their reason for leaving.

Some feel that the measures are just a front for the Uzbekistan government to increase revenue. Most Uzbek migrant workers heading for Russia avoid taking the legal route. By increased effectiveness in monitoring their activities, the Uzbek government can collect more income taxes and fees.