Tajikistan, Russia and Migrant Workers

Since the beginning of his third term as president, Putin has promoted the creation of the “Eurasian Union” as one of Russia’s major foreign policy goals. In fact, what Moscow wants to construct is not much a neo-Soviet project, as some of the proponents of neo-Eurasianism assumed at the beginning of Putin’s tenure, but a sort of neo-imperial construction. It looks more similar to the European colonial empires of the 19th century, whereby the UK, France and other powers benefited economically from their colonial possessions. This model gave rise to resistance among the potential member states across the post-Soviet space, and Moscow has used a variety of methods to persuade and indeed compel the potential members of this neo-imperial project to join. Emigration is one of the key tools in this sense. The point here is that millions of workers come to Russia from impoverished Central Asian states. Tajikistan is one of these states. Throughout 2013 Moscow has reiterated its threat to limit the numbers of guest workers from Tajikistan, or even to deport those already in Russia unless Dushanbe accepted Moscow’s demands. This approach works.

Authors: Dmitry Shlapentokh