Monday, October 26, 2020

Armenian-Azerbaijani War Seen Provoking Large New Flow of Armenians to Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 24 – Outflows of ethnic Armenians from Armenia proper and Nagorno-Karabakh are likely to grow because of the fighting and the restoration of Azerbaijani control over the previously Armenian-occupied regions of Azerbaijan, according to experts at an online discussion of the current migration crisis in the North Caucasus.

            Nona Shakhnazaryan, an ethnographer at Armenia’s Academy of Sciences, says that because of the war, on top of the pandemic, means that “migration flows will become larger,” especially from Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and most of those people will move to southern parts of the Russian Federation (

            Many of them will join the already existing Armenian settlements in the region, according to Nikolay Trapsh, an analyst at Rostov’s Southern Federal University. In the first instance, they will replace those from these communities who returned to Armenia to fight in the war.

            Akhmed Chapanov, a political scientist at Moscow’s Russian State Humanities University, adds that “if Nagorno-Karabakh comes under the control of Azerbaijan, a mass migration of refugees from the Southern Caucasus is possible,” mostly to Russia and mostly to the southern portion of the country.

            But Amil Sarkarov, deputy head of the Derbent branch of the Russian Information Agency, says that border controls which have kept many in camps on one side of borders may lead to the rise of more of these as more people want to leave. Up to now, most of these camps have included people who want to return home but can’t.

            In other comments, Chapanov observed that the overall size of migration flows in the North Caucasus hasn’t changed but the ethnic composition of them has. Increasingly, the outflow of local people is being covered by the inflow of immigrants from Central Asia and the South Caucasus, creating new tensions in many places.

            That has been exacerbated, Akhmet Yarlykarpov of MGIMO says, by the return of many North Caucasians to their home republics. They had gone to Moscow and other Russian cities to find work, but now, they are back competing for limited positions in the region. They often keep other migrants not connected locally from getting work.

            These patterns set the stage for all groups to become more ethnically self-conscious as this competition intensifies and even for conflicts among them to break out in particular locales. The instability this will produce, these experts say, will likely generate more efforts by local people to expel the new immigrants and to leave themselves if conditions get worse.

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