Monday, October 9, 2017

Gastarbeiters in Russia from Central Asia and Azerbaijan Displacing Ukrainians, Belarusians and Moldovans

Paul Goble

            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 ( They are given below. The first number is the number of gastarbeiters from a particular country on August 1, 2016; the second is the number on August 1 of this year; and the third is the change plus or minus:

Uzbekistan 1,827,000; 1,975,000; an increase of 148,000

Tajikistan 987,000; 1,077,000; an increase of 99,000

Kyrgyzstan 576,000; 622,000; an increase of 46,000

Azerbaijan 515,000; 555,000; an increase of 40,000

Armenia 528,000; 518,000; a decrease of 10,000

Kazakhstan 597,000; 568,000; a decrease of 29,000

Belarus 727,000; 686,000; a decrease of 41,000

Moldova 491,000; 430,000; a decrease of 61,000

Ukraine 2,541,000; 2,325,000; a decrease of 216,000

            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. 

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