Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Legal and Illegal Migration from Ukraine: An Analysis of Social and Security Issues

Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Legal and Illegal Migration from Ukraine: An Analysis of Social and Security Issues

Article excerpt


The years since Ukraine's independence following the fundamental geopolitical changes at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, in the country and the world at large, have seen a radical change in the nature of migration flows. The development of migration was influenced, on the one hand, by traditional migration ties formed during the Soviet period, and on the other, developed under the new politico-legal and economic conditions resulting from the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The other factors that influenced migration are market reforms and the democratisation of society, and primarily following the laying down and guarantee of the constitutional right to freedom of movement for Ukrainian citizens. Following the period of isolation from the outside world during the Soviet period, Ukraine engaged various international processes, including international migration. This was evident primarily in the change in orientation of migration flows towards the West, and primarily to the rest of Europe.

The main currents of international migration that are currently subject to regulation by the Ukrainian state are: a) repatriates - persons of Ukrainian origin returning the territory of the Ukraine following the collapse of the Soviet Union; b) emigrants - the main target countries of Ukrainians are Germany, USA, Canada and Israel; c) refugees and asylumseekers - an average of three thousand refugees annually from all continents and about one thousand one hundred asylum-seekers annually; d) economic (cyclical) migrants; e) illegal migrants; and f) transitory migrants from third countries (Malinovska, 2004).

Factors that lead Ukrainian Migration

The first years following Ukraine's independence in 1991 were characterised primarily by a mass wave of returns of many ethnic Ukrainians and migrants of other nationalities from Russia and other former Soviet republics. These migrants had, in the past, left Ukraine for economic reasons, or had been forcibly deported to eastern regions of the former Soviet Union by the Soviet régime. The reasons for the large number of repatriates lay not only in their natural desire to return to their homeland, but also, in many cases, due to the ethnic and armed conflicts that were beginning to escalate in some republics of the former USSR. The years 1991-92 alone saw nearly a million people enter Ukraine. This wave of repatriates included primarily migrants from Siberia, the Far East and Kazakhstan. There was also a significant return of citizens of other nationalities; for example the key repatriation of Crimean Tatars, who had been deported from the Ukraine on the orders of Joseph Stalin. 63,300 Crimean Tatars returned in the years 1991- 92, which represented 7% of immigrants coming to Ukraine from all post-Soviet republics. The majority of immigrants were, however, Ukrainians, Russians and representatives of other titular nationalities living on the territory of the former Soviet Union (Nevzdolja, 2005).

The chronic complications resulting from the transition of a socialist realist society to the institutions of a market economy and parliamentary democracy, which Ukraine has been experiencing for an unbroken period of nineteen years, has meant that the country has, since about the middle of the 1990s, lost its attractiveness to repatriates and is becoming primarily a significant source country from the point of view of international economic migration, and not only in the context of integrated Europe.

Immediately prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, expert reports by renowned Western European specialists evaluated the options for the independent developments of the individual Soviet republics based on assessment of key economic, social and geopolitical parameters. These assessments rated Ukraine in first place as the country with the best prospects (Clement & Slama, 1992).

However, economic analyses of the initial possibilities and potentialities of the Ukrainian economy in the development of independent Ukraine were not fulfilled. …

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