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On-line session. The ‘Migration seminar’. Rustamjon Urinboyev «Migration, Shadow Economy and the Street World in Russia»

On April 29, 2021 an online session of the regular "Migration studies" seminar at the Institute of Social Policy of the Higher School of EconomicsRustamjon Urinboyev, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology of Law at Lund University held, Senior Researcher in Russian and Eurasian Studies in the Aleksanteri Institute at University of Helsinki. «Migration, Shadow Economy and the Street World in Russia».

This presentation consisted of two parts. The first discussed the development of immigration laws and policies in Russia between 2000 and 2017, a time during which Russia become the world’s one of the largest recipients of migrants. Then, the focus was placed on understanding the impact of restrictive immigration laws and policies on the formation of a shadow economy characterized by a large-scale migrant labour force. I will argue that Russian immigration laws and policies have produced unintended consequences: that is, rather than reducing the number of undocumented migrants, those laws and policies further pushed migrants into the shadow economy. This resulted from the Russian legal environment—which is characterized by rampant corruption, weak rule of law and arbitrary enforcement. These features imply that even those migrants possessing all of the required immigration papers cannot be certain that they will avoid legal problems when they come into contact with Russian authorities. Due to the complicated legalization procedures and the arbitrariness of laws, many migrants resort to working in the shadow economy, where they can work without documents. Hence, a distinctive feature of Russia’s migration regime is the rather large and continuous presence of a shadow economy heavily reliant upon cheap and legally unprotected migrant labour.

The second part discussed how Central Asian migrants – Uzbek migrant workers – adapt to Russian legal environment under the conditions of a weak rule of law and shadow economy employment. In this paper I argue that the emergence of street- level institutions in the Russian migrant labour market should not only be seen as instances of criminality and illegality, but also as “informal legal orders” that provide alternative forms of redress, legal regulation, and economic security in weak-rule-of-law migration contexts.
 
Information about the seminar may be found on the website https://isp.hse.ru/migrissled