Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Moscow’s Compatriots Program Allowing Too Many Non-Slavs to Enter Russia and Must Be Revised or Stopped, Shustov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 16 – Moscow has presented its program to allow people living abroad who were citizens of the USSR or are descendants of those who lived in that country or its predecessor the Russian Empire to return in order to compensate for Russia’s demographic decline.

            But Aleksandr Shustov, a commentator for the Rhythm of Eurasia portal, says that a close analysis shows that the program isn’t working that way but instead is allowing non-Slavs to enter Russia, thus changing the ethnic balance (ritmeurasia.ru/news--2024-02-16--gosprogramma-pereselenija-sootechestvennikov-stala-kanalom-dlja-migracii-ne-slavjan-71573).

            As a result, “the program of resettling Russian compatriots has lost its sense and become an instrument for the migration into Russia of the indigenous population of the Asian countries of the CIS,” something that Moscow has tried to hide by releasing so few statistics about it. But there are enough to reach that conclusion, Shustov insists.

            He offers an analysis of the data the government has released for 2022 and argues that his conclusions are supported by fuller data from Kaluga Oblast. There, officials say, 80 percent of the compatriots who came a decade or more ago were Slavs but by 2022, only 17 percent were, leading Kaluga to end its participation in the program (kommersant.ru/doc/5215478), a step Shustov clearly believes others should follow.

            “Today,” he writes, “the massive ‘recruitment’ of immigrants in CIS countries where there are practically no Russians or other Slavs left should be stopped.” Instead, the compatriot program should be kept in place “only where that demographic base remains significant.” And to ensure that, Moscow must focus on the nationality of applicants.

            But in an indication of just how racialist and not just nationalist Shustov’s approach would be, he urges that the Russian government “launch a mechanism to attractive the conservative-minded population of the United States and the European Union, many of whom are interested in moving to Russia” (ritmeurasia.ru/news--2023-02-24--kto-poedet-v-rossiju-ideologicheskaja-immigracija-64849).

            While the Putin regime may not yet be prepared to go that far, Shustov’s comments suggest that many in Moscow now are ready to restrict the compatriot program only to Slavs and not open to members of other groups who were or whose ancestors were citizens of the USSR or the Russian Empire.

            If that happens, among the biggest losers will be the Circassians who have long sought repatriation to their homeland in the North Caucasus and have tried to use the compatriot program to that end. They will be further radicalized by any further changes in that direction (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/07/circassian-activist-denounces-moscow.html).

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