Staunton, August 28 – Some in Moscow think outmigration of Russians from the North Caucasus has slowed, but that is an illusion, Valery Korovin says. It reflects the fact that Russians have almost entirely left Chechnya and Ingushetia and that elsewhere where there are fewer Russians, the number who can leave is smaller as well, Valery Korovin says.
The author of The Caucasus without Russians: A Blow from the South (in Russian, Moscow, 2021) observes that the largest number of Russians there left in the 1990s but that since then the decline has been smaller, with the share of Russians in the population falling only from 25 percent to 19 percent since 2000 (vz.ru/opinions/2021/8/27/1115683.html).
According to Korovin, Russian flight earlier was prompted by armed conflicts in the region but that the largest numbers of ethnic Russians left the region not during such conflicts but in their wake, especially as Russians feared that they would continue to be victimized and Moscow initially refused to view their plight as something it needed to focus on.
Indeed, he says, the greatest number of Russians left the North Caucasus not during the first Chechen war but after the signing of the Khasavyurt accords when the Chechen authorities felt sufficiently confident of their power that they launched a campaign to drive Russians out and to kill some who refused to leave.
Tragically, he says, “the facts of genocide during this period were not only not recorded statistically but consciously understated including by [Moscow] in order that the extreme nature of ethnic tension in the Russian Caucasus would not become a part of public consciousness” among Russians elsewhere.
Fortunately, Korovin says, since 2000, the situation has changed. Moscow and the local officials it has installed are trying to defend Russians. But much of the population is so anti-Russian that people act against ethnic Russians regularly and the latter as a result feel that no one is coming to their defense. They are thus continuing to leave.
If this situation is to be changed, the writer concludes, Moscow will have to make the presence of ethnic Russians part of its general mission just as Russian rulers did over more than two centuries. If that doesn’t happen and if Russians in the North Caucasus continue to feel they are being ignored, even more will continue to leave.