Staunton, April 21 – The four million plus Central Asians now working in the Russian Federation routinely get enormous media attention especially in tough economic times when many Russians routinely express concern about whether these immigrants are taking away jobs from the indigenous population or are a source of crime and infection.
But there is a second Central Asian immigration, one that seldom attracts much popular attention and that in almost every case is welcomed by the Russian government: the more than 100,000 Central Asians who are now attending Russian higher educational institutions where they are perfecting their Russian and developing contacts and ties with Russia.
The political importance of that emigration is underscored by a scholar with a somewhat unusual background: Artyom Dankov, an orientalist who heads the Beijing-backed Confucius Institute in Tomsk that seeks to attract Russian students to study in China and who views this flow as being critically important for the future of the region.
In a two-part article (ia-centr.ru/experts/artem-dankov/demografiya-chertit-budushchee-regiona-tsentralnoy-azii/ and ia-centr.ru/experts/artem-dankov/molodoe-litso-tsentralnoy-azii-demografiya-opredelyaet-politiku-/), he offers the 100,000 plus figure on the basis of his own calculations from a Russian statistical compilation on foreign students.
Especially for countries like those in Central Asia which have rapidly rising populations and thus large numbers of young people, the ability of outside countries to attract students from them will become ever more important in determining their future cultural, economic and political orientation.