Sunday, February 26, 2023

Representatives of Middle Volga Nations in Orenburg Declining in Number but Those of Central Asian Ones Increasing, Census Shows

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 22 – The ethnic mix in Orenburg Oblast, which some view as a corridor between the peoples of the Middle Volga and Kazakhstan that would give the former a greater chance at independence (, changed radically between the last two all-Russian censuses of 2010 and 2021.

            The number of ethnic Russians declined slightly, but changes in the share of peoples from the Middle Volga, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia were large. The first two fell dramatically but the third increased by an equal amount, suggesting Central Asia is moving north while the Middle Volga is no longer moving south (

            The Central Asianization of Orenburg appears set to increase in the coming years, not only because of the outmigration or assimilation of Middle Volga nations but also because the ethnic Russian population is likely to decline even faster not only because of outmigration but also because it is older and thus likely to have fewer children.

            If that pattern holds, the peoples of the Middle Volga could find themselves adjoining a Central Asian space within a decade or so, even if their own nations decline in number in the Orenburg corridor, something some advocates of an independent Idel-Ural state have already taken note of.

Instead of urging Middle Volga nations to move into the corridor, these activists are calling on current and future residents of the Orenburg Oblast to join with Idel-Ural for its freedom and their own (

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