Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Had USSR Not Disintegrated, Ethnic Russians Would Be in a Much Worse Position Now, Nationalist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 10 – Russian nationalists often bewail the demise of the Soviet Union, but a close examination of the demographic situation across Eurasia shows, a Russian nationalist commentator says, that ethnic Russians would be in a far worse position now if the USSR still existed and that 50 percent of the soldiers in a Soviet army today would be Muslims.

            On the radical nationalist site, a Russian nationalist blogger argues that other Russian nationalists should consider the situation they would be in if the USSR had not disintegrated 22 years ago because if they do, they will be far less interested in any restoration of that state (

            Drawing on figures published by the reputatable Demoscope weekly, the blogger notes that according to the 1989 census, ethnic Russians formed 51 percent of the Soviet population, and together with the other Eastern Slavic nationalities (Ukrainians and Belarusians) formed 69 percent of the total. (See

            While it can be argued that “a certain critical barrier had already been passed” before 1991, “if the USSR had not fallen apart and if the dynamics of population change remained similar to todays, the situation [for the ethnic Russians and the Eastern Slavs more generally] would be still worse.”

            The Central Asians and Azerbaijanis continue to have higher fertility rates than do the Slavs, and while the demographic catastrophe that has occurred among Russians and Ukrainians after 1991 might not have been as severe had the USSR survived, the numbers of these two nations would nonetheless have stayed more or less constant or fallen, as they have in Ukraine (

            What that means is that had the USSR survived, the ethnic  Russians would currently form only 43 percent of the population, down from 51 percent in 1989, and the Eastern Slavs as a group would form 62 percent of the total, again down from the 69 percent at the end of Soviet times ( and

            But because the Slavs are declining in overall numbers and the Muslim nations are growing, the share of Slavs in the younger age groups is much lower and that of the Muslims much  higher, the blogger points out, a pattern that means that a “Soviet army” now would be 50 percent Central Asian and Caucasian.

            It also means, the blogger points out, that the aging of the populations of the Slavic and Baltic republic “would inevitably lead to labor migration from the ‘younger’ republics,” a pattern that Europeans are already familiar with. In short, the continued existence of the Soviet Union would have made the gastarbeiter problem even worse than it is.

            “The moral” of this, the Russian blogger concludes, is that “the collapse of the Union with all its minuses gave the Russian a chance for the construction of a national state without the burden of the Asiatic horde.” Now, because the republics are independent states, Russians can send the gastarbeiters away whenever they decide they can afford to and want.

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