Publication dated to the International Migrants Day: Contradictions between the Global Compact for Migration and the Russian migration policy


Russia ranks 4th in the world in number of migrants, but it tends to view migration as a “threat,” restrict access to social benefits, medical care, and insurance, and limit access to education for children migrating with their parents.

Today, on December 18th, International Migrants Day, we have prepared postcards on the discrepancies between the Global Compact and Russia’s new Strategy for Migration Policy.

On December 10th, Russia supported the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regulated Migration—a documented aimed at the comprehensive protection of migrants with account for human rights, gender aspects, disability factors, age, and the interests of the child.

A month prior to this, Russia adopted its new Strategy for State Migration Policy for 2019–2025, which, instead of clearly defining tasks to resolve migrants’ problems, reinforces and articulates the stricter principles for treating migrants that have long been used in Russian practice (for more on this, see

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration envisages the protection of migrant rights as an integral part of the migration policy of receiving countries. A large section is devoted to protection from discrimination, including the need to eliminate all forms of discrimination, to respect and protect the rights of all migrants regardless of status, to disallow ethnic profiling by government and law enforcement agencies, and to end support for media outlets that promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism, and discrimination.

The Global Compact requires observance of migrants’ socioeconomic rights, including access to affordable medical care. The Compact guarantees the rights of migrants to belong to labor unions and also recognizes the need for labor unions to participate in the training and development of migrant workers.

The Compact devotes a great deal of attention to the rights of migrant children. It calls on states to ensure equal access to preschool, school, and non-formal education for migrant children, language instruction, and financing for integrated schools.

Unlike the Compact, Russia’s Strategy for Migration Policy takes an entirely different approach, mentioning migrant rights only in passing and ignoring discrimination, the social safety net, union activities, and the rights of the child.

The new Strategy makes brief mention of documenting stateless persons, but Russia has yet to adopt a law regulating a clear and simple procedure for legalization.

Russian law lacks any effective procedure for documenting stateless persons. Tens of thousands of former Soviet citizens living in Russia still do not have the ability to become citizens. They are arrested for “violation of migration rules,” assigned deportation in court rulings, and imprisoned, to all intents and purposes, indefinitely, since it is not possible to deport them to any country. They are released at the end of their sentences, but they are not issued any documents that would allow them to remain in Russia legally. As a result, they are often imprisoned again as violators of migration rules.

On July 4, 2018, the Central Migration Department of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs announced that it was working on amendments to the law “On Citizenship of the Russia Federation” that would make it possible for stateless persons to obtain personal identification documents quickly. The amendments have yet to be adopted.