Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Migration Changing Ethnic Mix in Daghestan and in Western Siberia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 25 – The influx of North Caucasians into major Russian cities like Moscow has attracted a great deal of attention because of clashes between them and the indigenous population, but another migration flow – migration from the North Caucasus to Western Siberia – is affecting not only where people go but where they have left.

            In a new article, Ramazan Alpaut notes that Kumyks, Lezgins, and Nogays are “migrating in massive numbers to the northern regions of Russia” from their homelands in Daghestan, complicating life in Western Siberia but also dramatically affecting the fate of these communities at home (kavkazr.com/a/kak-dagestancy-stanovyatsya-sibiryakami/28755945.html).

                The Radio Liberty journalist notes that according to the 2010 census, there are now about 19,000 Kumyks and more than 16,000 Lezgins living in Tyumen oblast, about 14,000 Kumyks and more than 13,000 Lezgins in the Khanty-Mansiisk Autonomous District, where there are also more than 5,000 Nogays. In the Yamalo-Nenets AD, there are smaller numbers.

            At the same time, Alpaut points out, there have been declines in the numbers of the members of these nationalities in particular areas of Daghestan, reducing the ability of these peoples to defend themselves and opening them up to assimilation by other Daghestani nationalities.

            Officials there blame the outflow on high levels of unemployment and on the background and training of many in these communities who in Soviet times worked across the USSR in the oil and gas industries. They suggest that what is happening is simply a return of a pattern quite common at that time.

            But however that may be, the impact of outmigration on Daghestan and  in-migration in parts of the Russian Federation where the population is smaller than in major cities and that any new arrivals can do more to change the ethnic balance than is the case in urban areas are phenomena that few are yet considering.

            On the one hand, the departure of Kumyks, Lezgins and Nogays inevitably affects the status of these groups within Daghestan, almost certainly guaranteeing that they will have less power and get fewer resources for schools and other native language institutions and thus putting them at risk of assimilation.

            And on the other, the arrival of these groups in predominantly Russian areas almost equally inevitably guarantees clashes between them and the local Russian population, clashes that may make these peoples and also the Russians there more rather than less sensitive to ethnic questions. 

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