Open borders, closed minds: Russia's changing migration policies: Liberalization or xenophobia?

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Russia's choice to pursue restrictive immigration policies is counterintuitive, given the acute need for labor migrants. This analysis argues that in response to pervasive xenophobia, the state has embarked on a labor migration policy agenda that does not reflect the demographic reality of Russia's rapidly declining working age population. Institutional and societal manifestations of xenophobia work together to demand and justify restrictive immigration policies. The state provokes and reinforces these nationalist attitudes through the media and discriminatory policies and practices such as ethnic profiling and allowing extremist groups to operate with impunity. The literature on migration policy systematically neglects illiberal polities, making this discussion linking the policy input of xenophobia to restrictive policy outputs a unique contribution to the ongoing study of how states respond to immigration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-121
Number of pages21
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2010


  • Russia
  • demographic crisis
  • immigration policy
  • labor migration
  • nationalism
  • xenophobia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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