Unemployment and social and economic instability sparked by the ongoing crisis have caused a socio-political fallout in Russia. The share of guest workers is traditionally high in Moscow’s employment patterns, and nowadays many of them have been laid off. The rates of street crime with their participation have spiked, according to the Moscow police data. In retaliation, there is a growing tide of violence on the part of Muscovites against non-residents, largely the natives of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Muscovites committed over 90 crimes against non-Slavic citizens in 2008. This figure constitutes a 300-percent jump in such crimes compared to 2007.

Thus far, the Moscow authorities have had a pretty vague idea about how to combat increased inter-ethnic tensions and crime in a huge metropolis. They are proposing plans to dramatically cut the numbers of guest workers, compile maps of the districts where the likelihood of anti-ethnic strife is very high and where special measure to ensure law and order are needed. Experts are doubtful, however, these measures could help normalize life in Moscow. The lack of any well thought-out migration policy on both the federal and municipal levels, the disparities between the declared obligations under international agreements and the real state of affairs are driving the problem inward rather than helping to resolve conflicts.

Further souring of the economy in Russia could intensify inter-ethnic conflicts both in Moscow and across the Russian Federation.