Staunton, October 22 – During the Soviet period, Moscow used both carrots and sticks to get ethnic Russians to settle in the non-Russian republics of the USSR in the belief that their presence would help Moscow transform the cultures of these places and help the Soviet Union stay together.
At the very end of Soviet times, Russians began to leave these places in many cases because they felt threatened by the rise of the “native” populations. After the USSR disintegrated, this reverse flow became a flood, a trend compounded by higher death rates among ethnic Russians who generally were older.
In the 1990s, both Russian and Western politicians and specialists talked a great deal about this outflow because it seemed certain to have profound consequences both for these countries which would thus become “less Russian” and for the Russian Federation which was seen becoming more Russian and thus more nationalistic.
But in the last two decades, this flow has attracted less attention; but it is still going on, albeit affecting smaller numbers because in every case, the number of Russians still living in these countries has declined significantly already and those still there are too old to find it easy to make a move. And it still affects the domestic and foreign policies of these republics.
The Yandex page Etnogeo provides an update of this demographic trend in seven former Soviet republics to the south of the Russian Federation. It relies on census data that may or may not be entirely reliable but is the best evidence available (zen.yandex.ru/media/etnogeo/velikoe-pereselenie-skolko-russkih-uehalo-iz-iujnyh-respublik-v-90e-5f915b4b6dc8f92eda5485f6).
Below is the list of countries comparing the number of ethnic Russians registered in the last Soviet census in 1989 when they were still union republics in the USSR and their number in the most recent census conducted by the governments of these so-called “newly independent states”:
Kazakhstan – 6,230,000 ethnic Russians in 1989; 3,500,000 ethnic Russians now.
Uzbekistan – 1,650,000 ethnic Russians in 1989; 650,000 now
Kyurgyzstan – 917,000 ethnic Russians in 1989; 350,000 now
Tajikistan – 388,000 ethnic Russians in 1989; 34,000 now
Turkmenistan – 334,000 ethnic Russians in 1989; 165,000 now
Azerbaijan – 392,000 ethnic Russians in 1989; 120,000 now
Georgia – 341,000 ethnic Russians in 1989; 26,000 now
Perhaps significantly, the Etnogeo listing does not include Armenia, where the number of Russians, never large, has fallen to fewer than 12,000 over the past decades.