Meeting Between Religious, Cultural and Intellectual Figures on Issues of Immigration at the US Embassy
24 March 2010
A meeting on the issues of immigration took place at the United States Embassy in Moscow on March 10, 2010. As reported by the press service of the Slavic Center for Law and Justice, among the participants in this event were members of the intellectual and cultural communities, religious leaders representing different faiths, and Eric Rubin, the Deputy Chief of the US Mission in Moscow, as well as two SCLJ lawyers, Anatoly Pchelintsev and Vladimir Ryakhovskiy.
The meeting was held on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the Lautenberg refugee program, named after the US Senator whose efforts resulted in the adoption of the legislative amendment in 1990 that opened doors to refugees for immigration to the United States on the basis of religious and ethnic grounds.
The active implementation of the program began in the early 1990s. A total of 440,000 applicants from Russia qualified for this program and were allowed to immigrate to the USA. These new immigrants were honest, hardworking, faithful, sober people who were strong supporters of family values and were simply seeking a place where they could have an opportunity to exercise the right to practice their religion freely. As a point of comparison, about 1 million people chose to emigrate from Russia to Germany in the same period. During the course of the meeting, participants heard stories told by numerous immigrants who have settled in the USA and adapted to their new society.
Upon observing just how many decent and upstanding people have left Russia, it gave rise to an astute feeling of uncertainty about how the country will be able to embark on the long and difficult journey towards building a genuine legal infrastructure, especially given the tendency to push aside its Christian citizens. It is noteworthy that, by the sheer strength of their religious ethics, these individuals contributed to the eradication of corruption, alcoholism and many other destructive social vices. Moreover, it is the very Christian values that they uphold that are playing an important role in helping to build a thriving democratic society.
During the discussion, Pchelintsev and Ryakhovskiy brought up the question of what is actually causing such immigration from the Russian Federation. For many years now, there has been a lot of talk about the various forms of security for Russia as a country – ranging from stability in the food supply, information security, military security, and so on. However, the issue of demographic security is constantly pushed to the back of the agenda, relegated as being an issue of secondary importance. Meanwhile, the population of the Russian Federation is decreasing at an estimated rate of 1 million people per year.
In light of everything said, the challenge of developing a reasonable and balanced inter-faith and inter-ethnic policy in Russia is more important now than ever before, as well as the need to guarantee the right of religious belief and conscience to every one of its citizens. These issues have never been more pressing.