Saturday, January 28, 2023

Both Russians and Kalmyks Leaving Kalmykia but Differences in Birthrates Shifting Ethnic Balance to the Latter, New Data Show

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 24 – Both Russians and Kalmyks are leaving the underpopulated Republic of Kalmykia, but low birthrates among the Russians and far higher ones among the Kalmyks mean that the decline in the number of the former since 2010 has been almost a quarter while that of the latter has been only two percent, new statistics show.

            As a result, even though Kalmyks are leaving that North Caucasus republic, their share of the population there is increasing, a trend that is especially striking because the Buddhist Kalmyks form a solid majority of the republic’s population already and the combination of these two trends is only adding to it (

            One reason Russians are leaving in such numbers is yet another unusual characteristic of that republic. In most non-Russian republics of the Russian Federation, Russians are concentrated in the cities; but in Kalmykia, they are more often found in rural areas. Thus, the collapse of rural Russia is adding to their desire to leave the republic.

            Daavr Dorzhin, a member of the Congress of Oirat-Kalmyks, says that this social and economic factor is more important in Russian calculations than any rise in ethnic tension, stressing that ethnic Kalmyks and ethnic Russians are leaving the republic for roughly similar reasons.

            The departure of Russians from the rural areas of Kalmykia may have another ethnic cause, however. Over the last 11 years, Muslim nationalities from neighboring Daghestan have moved into rural areas of Kalmykia. There are almost no cases in which they have moved into Kalmyk cities. Their arrival may have prompted Russian “flight” if that is the right term.

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