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The goal of this paper is to analyze Russian migration policy in order to understand why migration policy in post-soviet Russia has become inconsistent and ineffective. The problems of Russian migration are significant because they affect the estimated ten million labor migrants currently working in the Russian Federation who suffer from human rights abuses. Migration policy is also significant because the Russian Federation is the main receiver of labor exported from Central Asian states and without a consistent migration policy Russia risks endangering the social and political stability of Central Asia. By combining an analysis of migration policy with research on the nature of the Russian state and a comparative migration analysis, it becomes clear that Russia is still in a state of transition from the Soviet Union. The problems of a transitioning state, such as a lack of state capacity, institutionalization of informal practices and a lack of trust in state institutions, combine with an overarching lack of national identity to prevent effective policy from being realized.


International and Area Studies