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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05DUSHANBE2038
2005-12-14 13:16:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Dushanbe
Cable title:  

TAJIK GOVT INSISTS PASSPORT DECISION REVERSAL PRACTICAL NOT

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  ELAB  SMIG  TI 
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						UNCLAS  DUSHANBE 002038 

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EUR/CACEN, SA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ELAB SMIG TI
SUBJECT: TAJIK GOVT INSISTS PASSPORT DECISION REVERSAL PRACTICAL NOT
POLITICS


UNCLAS DUSHANBE 002038

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EUR/CACEN, SA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ELAB SMIG TI
SUBJECT: TAJIK GOVT INSISTS PASSPORT DECISION REVERSAL PRACTICAL NOT
POLITICS



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Tajikistan orders Tajiks to use
international passports when traveling to Russia despite an
Eurasian Economic Community (EEC) agreement permitting citizens
to travel using internal passports. This affects up to one
million labor migrants who do not have the expensive
international passport. Tajikistan believes the use of an
international passport will help to curb harassment from foreign
border and law enforcement officials. Press reports claim they
are also responding to pressure from Russian parliamentarians
looking to reduce the number of Tajiks in Russia. Regardless of
the type of identification, migrant workers face harassment,
discrimination and hardship working in Russia. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) PolOff met with Amirsho, a Tajik labor migrant
traveling to Russia for 10 years who has worked on construction
sites in Moscow and Novosibirsk. His employers pay him $500 a
month for backbreaking work, digging wells and constructing
walls. In the past, he and other migrants have lived on the
open construction sites where they worked with no heating or
running water. Now he shares a small flat with other migrants.
Amirsho now faces a much more difficult time traveling between
Russia and Tajikistan.


3. (SBU) The mandatory use of international passports for
Tajik citizens to travel to Russia is a practical decision made
in the best interest of Tajik citizens, not a political one,
insists Igor Sattarov, Head of the Information Department of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a meeting with PolOff. Members
of the EEC: Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan, and
Belarus agreed to allow citizens to travel through each country
with only their internal domestic passports, effective November

1. Although not legally required, Tajikistan is now "strongly
encouraging" its citizens to travel with international
passports. News sources report state-owned Tajikistan Airlines
refused passengers entry onto flights without international
passports.


4. (SBU) Tajik international passports cost approximately $30.

For most Tajiks, $30 is their average monthly salary and an
international passport is prohibitively expensive. In
addition, illegal migrants who are already out of Tajikistan
cannot apply for a passport in their host country. This new
government directive affects the estimated one million Tajiks
who travel to Russia for work. Remittances from labor migrants
contribute to 15% of the Tajik economy. Restrictive conditions
not permitting labor migrants to work could have a notable
impact on the economy.

KEEPING TAJIK CITIZENS INTERESTS IN MIND


5. (SBU) A long negotiation over a list of acceptable travel
documents began in February 2004. In January 2005, Russia
insisted that Tajiks needed international passports to enter
Russia. However, they relented when Tajikistan reciprocated and
refused Russian citizens entry without international passports.
A renegotiation began and in October the EEC agreed that
internal passports could be used for international travel.
Despite protests from Russia's Duma, the Russian government
upholds the policy.


6. (SBU) Contrary to news reports, Sattorov insists the Duma's
criticism is not the main factor in Tajikistan's decision.
Sattorov explained the government recommends foreign travel with
international passports because it is concerned Tajiks,
particularly labor migrants would face problems while traveling
through Kyrgystan and Kazakhstan where some have been refused
entry in the past without international passports. Although
permissible, uninformed border officials may use the lack of an
international passport to bribe or harass travelers. Sattorov
also noted that Tajikistan worries Russia will change its mind
once again and decide to officially require international
passports.

HARD WORK IN RUSSIA IS BETTER THAN IN TAJIKISTAN



7. (SBU) Most Tajik migrant workers are laborers on
construction sites, in factories or on farms. About 25% are
professionals engaged in trade, education or law enforcement. A
slim group, about 3%, according to Embassy estimates, is
involved with criminal gangs.


8. (SBU) Most migrants live and work in Russia illegally.
Regulations stipulate registered migrant workers must pay 33% of
their salary to the government. Employers also have to pay
taxes, therefore it is not beneficial for either to register.
Because of their illegal status, migrants cannot report crimes
committed against them to the police and must pay out of pocket
for medical services.


9. (SBU) Traveling to Russia is difficult. Without an
international passport, militia and train inspectors are able to
extract bribes easily. After arriving in Russia, life does not
get any better. The Russia militia consistently beat and bribe
Tajik migrant workers. Russian police have even stolen money
from Amirsho and his fellow Tajik migrant colleagues. Sometimes
the police raid the living quarters of migrant workers, accuse
them of an arbitrary crime and fine them or threaten them with
imprisonment. Amirsho's family is concerned for his safety and
does not want him to return to Russia. Recent rumors of
"skinheads" attacking migrants raise fears in the community.


10. (SBU) When asked if all the hard work, harassment, and
physical and mental distress were worth it, Amirsho replied with
a resolute, "Yes." Although traveling to and working in Russia
is difficult, the financial rewards and benefits of supporting a
family outweigh the individual costs.


11. (SBU) COMMENT: Tajik migrant workers, whether registered
or illegal, are subject to discrimination in Russia. The Duma's
objection to the use of internal passports may inflame
mistreatment of migrant workers. However, migrant workers will
still flock to Russia and other CIS countries for the financial
opportunities, regardless of passport requirements.


12. (SBU) Russia's and Tajikistan's migrant labor and illegal
immigration woes are much like the challenges faced by the
United States and Mexico. While a difficult political issue for
all four countries, a dialogue on the issue could be beneficial
to all sides, especially if Parliamentarians and U.S.
Congressional representatives are involved.

END COMMENT.
ARMBRUSTER


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