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Up to five million illegal migrants currently live in Russia,
Up to five million illegal migrants currently live in Russia, a top interior ministry official said on Thursday.

According to Federal Security Service data, over 21 million people officially enter Russian each year for transit purposes, tourism and for work, with many of those registering and receiving work permits through the Federal Migration Service.

"Some of these [migrants] travel onto European and Asian countries, while some, without obtaining the required documentation, settle in Russia and become illegal immigrants," said Gennady Ivanov, deputy head of the ministry's criminal investigation department.

Many people from Central Asian countries, such as Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are not aware of Russian laws and customs and do not speak Russian.

Following the introduction of sweeping new migration laws, the number of migrant workers allowed to work legally in Russia was reduced from around 6 million in 2007 to 2 million in 2008, and non-Russians were banned from working in markets and retail outlets.

The Federal Migration Service announce this week that it was no longer accepting applications for work permits in some Russian districts as over 10 regions, including Moscow, had reached their annual quotas for 2008.


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