Staunton, September 9 – The just published Belarusian demographic yearbook shows that for the first time, immigrants from Turkmenistan (4001) outnumbered those from Ukraine (3404) in 2018, albeit both were and are far behind the number entering from Russia (7040) (thinktanks.by/publication/2019/09/09/migratsiya-v-belarus-turkmeny-vpervye-obognali-ukraintsev.html).
Many of the Turkmens are students in Belarusian universities. According to the yearbook, there are now 7700 Turkmens in Belarusian higher educational institutions, perhaps reflecting Ashgabat’s desire that if they study abroad, they study in a country almost as authoritarian as their homeland.
But the number of Turkmens now in Belarus and the annual increase in their ranks may create a problem for Belarus which except for its indigenous Lithuanian Muslims, a relatively small and rural population, Belarus has not had a significant Muslim minority; but now it is gaining one.
Also worthy of note is the declining number of Ukrainians, which rose to an all-time high of 10,500 in 2015 in the wake of Russia’s invasion but even in the absence of such a stimulus Ukrainians have ranked second as immigrants to Belarus in the past. That now has changed, possibly in response to the contrast between Ukrainian and Belarusian political life.
The other leading sources of immigration are China (1695), Kazakhstan (877), Iran (571), the US (504), Azerbaijan (433), Georgia (360) and Tajikistan (360).
As far as the outmigration of Belarusians is concerned, Russia was at the top of the list last year with 6732, Ukraine second with 1411, Turkmenistan with 1118, Poland with 765, Israel with 761, Germany with 702, the US with 432, China with 344, Lithuania with 338, and Iran with 211.