Recently, a media article with the title “TYPICAL MYTHS – ATYPICAL MIGRATION” was published in Ukrainian media. In this article statistics on “illegal” migration to/through Ukraine – and their misinterpretation and propaganda through the radical right in Ukraine – is discussed. Therefore, BMPU roughly translated the article. The original article can be found here.

Taras Doronyuk

Some days ago a leaflet item of propaganda appeared near the entrance of my house. It attracted my attention at once because it was showing the problem of “illegal migration” in a very schematic way. Looking closer to it, I saw that this leaflet was produced by the “Ukrainian movement against illegal migration” (MAIM). Following the example of the Russian MAIM, the Ukrainian corresponding movement calls for “fencing off Ukraine from the flow of migrants from Asia, Africa […]”. The leaflet explained in short all the bad things brought through migration processes. We will return to this point later, however, first it is necessary to explain the context.

Focusing on the “threats” of migration processes is a rather simple political and ideological approach that different Ukrainian political forces and movements use. Immediately, the campaign “Let’s stop illegal migration!” of the Ukrainian party “Svoboda” comes in mind focusing on the “Agreement between Ukraine and European Community about readmission of persons”, which was going to come into force  in January 1, 2010. The issue of migration was framed in a rather unusual way: “Illegal migrants bring us diseases, drugs, unemployment and turn the streets of our cities into centers of criminality and wild outburst of ethnic mafia”. For many years another campaign against “illegal migration” is implemented by another more right-radical organization, called “Patriot of Ukraine”. Their activity is mainly concentrated inside Kharkiv. According to the results of monitoring done by the Centre of Social Investigations from October 2009 till September 2010, there were 19 protests against migrants (in 2011 – 11, in 2012 – only 5) […].

The use of anti-migration rhetoric was caused by the inability to provide clear answers to the questions posed for Ukraine in tightest point of the economic crisis. In such a situation the anti-migrant leaflet can give simple answers for questions on employment, social expenditures, increase of criminality, etc. This rhetoric was one of the elements of the presidential election campaign of Oleg Tyagnybok in 2010. The elections finished – and eagerness went off to act against “illegal migration”. In addition, the expected increase of migrants, which was expected because the Readmission Agreement with EU came into force, did not happen. In 2011, the party “Svoboda” only organized one event, which can be described as anti-migrant-action, “Uman [city] without Hasid”.  During the parliamentary election  campaign in 2012 the party “Svoboda” organized again four of five anti-migrants protests. On the other hand, one can see a decrease of participation of “Patriot of Ukraine” in anti-migrant protest: From 4 in 2011 to 1 in 2012 (all actions took place in Kharkiv). The reason of this reduction of activity can be seen, first of all, in problems with law enforcement agencies. Nowadays, the key members of the organization are imprisoned, so they could not influence its activity.

The perception of migration among the radical right is limited to expulsion and stereotypes and does not touch the connection of migration processes with globalization, economic crises and processes at the labor market. For the radical right, migration process is in its base “unnatural” and as a derived word from it – “illegal”. As they see it, this is enough for perception of its understanding. For a better understanding of “illegal migration”, first of all, it is reasonable to debunk myths composed on it, and then to connect the issue with humanitarian EU imperialism in migration control, local integration and migration policy in Ukraine.

The leaflet on “illegal migration” mentioned in the beginning of the article can be seen as a tool for understanding the subject. We will try to separate it into the significant points and compare the text of the leaflet with statistic data and investigations.

1. “Temporary Holding Centers for illegal migrants in Ukraine have a maximum capacity of four thousand persons”. The mentioned number of four thousand is exaggerated. The holding facilities which are located in different departments and for people with different legal statuses have a lower capacity. However, this is not a problem, because the capacity of the holding facilities did not exceed 50 % as to 2011.

2. “Three million Dollars will be needed for their maintenance. The deportation of one illegal migrant to his country of origin costs the government more than one thousand Dollars. In 2009 just three million UAH were allotted for these needs from the state budget, which could be spent for deportation of more than 400 persons”. These figures are one more variant of speculation with numbers, which were widely spread by national deputy Iryna Berezhna. In reality, if you are looking to the numbers provided by the State Border Service of Ukraine, they differ from those mentioned by Berezhna. Concerning the decisions on expulsion of “illegal” migrants, so the numbers are the following: In 2009 there were 1668 persons, in 2010: 1046, in 2011: 626 and in 2012: 494. According to the data of the State Border Service, the following costs were spent on their expulsion under their responsibility: 800.000 UAH in 2009, 600.000 UAH in 2010, 500.000 UAH in 2011 and 425.000 UHA in 2012.


These numbers contradict the above mentioned calculations, as the number of deported persons in 2009 exceeds the speculative numbers four times. In this situation it is not understandable how the radical right and Iryna Berezhna made their calculations.

«The authorities want to borrow EUR 30 million more — we have to pay for hundreds of thousands criminals, illegal migrants and social spongers». EUR 30 million — this is the sum allotted to Ukraine by the European Union in 2011 under the project “Consultation services as to the construction of Temporary Accommodation Centers for illegal migrants under the security and Temporary Detention Centers for irregular migrants in Ukraine”. This money is designated to “problem solution concerning illegal migrants, strengthening of national policy in the migration sphere as well as construction of 7 short-term detention centres and 2 long-term detention centres in the course of the next two and half years in the context of Readmission Agreement between EU and Ukraine”. However, this money is not loan, it was allotted mainly for building up the infrastructure for keeping “illegal” migrants.


«But “caring” Europe proposes us to take 300-350 thousand Africans, Asians and Caucasians to the country every year». If examining the real numbers – they are very different. Concerning the Readmission Agreement with EU, with which the radical right connected the number of 300-350 thousand “illegal migrants”, it must be noted that according to the statistics of the State Border Service 1895 persons were readmitted in the period from 2010 to 2012 from the EU member-states to Ukraine. Among them there were 1149 citizens of Ukraine, from CIS countries 511 and from other countries only 235.

Furthermore, […] there is no correlation between the number of people, who were not allowed to enter Ukraine and the so called  “potential illegal migrants” and detained “illegal” migrants. The highest point of the former ones was in 2007 (24968) and 2008 (24774),  the number of detained “illegal” migrants was only 7607 in 2006 […]. It is very difficult to make any substantiated resume on the basis of these statistics, however they can be seen in two ways: changes in migration flows, trying to pass around Ukraine in different ways, or certain changes in migration management on the part of corresponding governmental structures of Ukraine […]



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