Ukraine detained 3,500 illegal immigrants in first half of 2003

22.Jul.03,  first published by AFP: read the original article here.

More than 3,500 illegal immigrants were caught in ukraine in the first half of the year and around 85 percent entered the country through neighboring russia, according to official figures released tuesday.

most of the immigrants who sneak into ukraine hail from china and india, with ukrainian authorities detaining 1,400 chinese and 698 indian nationals from january through june, said marina rubtsova, spokesman for the state committee on border surveillance.

the problem of illegal immigration in the ex-soviet republic has worsened as its neighbors hungary, poland and slovakia are due to join the european union in may 2004.

the number of illegal immigrants caught so far is 1.7 times higher than the number detained in the same period last year, rubtsova told the interfax news agency.

of the immigrants attempting to make their way to europe, half were caught on ukraine's border with slovakia, she said.