Staunton, October 9 – Over the last year, there have been serious reductions in the number of gastarbeiters in Russia from Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova that have been more than matched by increases in the number from Central Asia and Azerbaijan, according to new statistics gathered by the Presidential Academy of Economics and State Service.
And because the new arrivals are more culturally distinct from Russians – most are Muslims – than are those they are replacing – many of whom are Orthodox Christians and speak Russian – that sets the stage for new tensions between the guest workers, on the one hand, and Russians, on the other.
Indeed, there is every possibility that this demographic shift could reignite many of the xenophobic attitudes among Russians about Central Asians that had declined largely as a result of the Russian government’s incessant anti-Ukrainian and anti-Western propaganda over the last several years.
The statistics are published in Moscow’s Komsomolskaya Pravda today (kp.ru/daily/26741.5/3769430/
Kazakhstan is the only exception to a pattern that is making the gastarbeiters more Muslim and hence more distinct from the Russian population; and it may not be as much of an exception as it appears. That is because it is at least possible that many of the gastarbeiters from that country are in fact ethnic Russians from its northern regions.