Monday, March 20, 2017

Jus Soli Citizenship Could Make Russians a Minority in Their Own Country

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 20 – Many Russians view legislation that would give Russian citizenship to all born in the USSR or their descendants as having positive consequences for Moscow in its relations with the post-Soviet states, ever more are asking whether the negative consequences it would have for Russia itself don’t outweigh those benefits.

            The measure, pushed by Konstantin Zatulin and Natalya Poklonskaya, would in the estimate of almost all create enclaves of Russian citizens in the CIS countries that Moscow could use to maintain or even expand its influence in them. (For background on this, see,

            But even though the measure has cleared the profile committee in the Duma, ever more dissenting voices are being heard from those who believe that such a measure would lead to the influx of too many people from Central Asia and the Caucasus who would never integrate into Russian life and who could in time leave ethnic Russians a minority in their own country.

            Such fears are surveyed by Ruslan Gorevoy today on the Novaya versiya portal (; and while they may be overblown in terms of the estimates of the number of people who would take advantage of such a law, such projections likely will slow the adoption of the measure or kill it altogether.

            Some of the proposed law’s backers say that it can help boost the population of the Russian Federation to 225 to 300 million from its current 150 million, but they fail to say that the only way to get to those figures is to bring in people who are increasingly dissimilar linguistically and culturally from ethnic Russians.

            At the very least, these people will form enclaves in Russian cities much as Muslims do in European ones. And in the more distant future, they may form a majority of the population, swamping the Russians and transforming the country in ways that no one really wants, opponents suggest.

            But even before that happens, opponents of the measure say, Russians will have to pay more in taxes in order to support all the benefits from maternal capital to education to health care that those who acquire Russian citizenship will gain if the measure passes. Given the declining size of the ethnic Russian workforce, that burden will become increasingly heavy per capita.

            And they need to think about something else: Many of those who choose to get Russian citizenship will not give up their ties with the countries of their birth. Indeed, they may form a new kind of “fifth column” within Russia, one that will work not for Russia but against Russian national interests.

                Such opposition is not unexpected: many Russians have long objected to unobstructed immigration even as Moscow and business interests have promoted it. But it is an indication, as Gorevoy puts it, that the Kremlin won’t gain the advantages abroad it hopes for with the jus soli law without having to pay a heavy price at home.
            Given that Russia is about to enter a presidential election, those domestic concerns may outweigh foreign policy prospects in the minds of many Russian voters and many Russian politicians who depend on their support.

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