[JURIST] Russian immigration officials have proposed stricter migrant laws hard on the heels of a call [text of speech] by President Vladimir Putin [official profile] to crack down on illegal immigrants at a Thursday cabinet meeting. The proposals include harsher penalties for businesses that employ illegal migrants, restricting border crossings, amending the Criminal Code and limiting the duration of visas distributed to certain nationalities.
Although a Russian immigration spokesman has insisted that the proposals are not a response to ongoing difficulties with Georgia [RIA Novosti report], Putin appeared to target Georgians in his address, saying groups with Mafia ties and an "ethnic hue" should be barred from outdoor markets. Tensions between Russia [JURIST news archive] and Georgia escalated last week when four Russian officers were arrested in Georgia on charges of espionage [BBC report]. The officers have since been returned to Russia. Russian police have closed down several Moscow casinos and restaurants for alleged links with the Georgian Mafia and on Friday, 180 Georgians were deported for alleged immigration violations. The Moscow Times has more.