Russian diaspora

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The term Russian diaspora refers to the global community of ethnic Russians, more specifically those who maintain some kind of connection, even if ephemeral to the land of their ancestors. The term "Russian speaking (Russophone) diaspora" (русскоговорящая диаспора, russkogovoryaschaya diaspora) is used to describe people for whom Russian language is the native language, regardless of whether they are ethnic Russians or, for example, Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews or Chechens.


The earliest significant ethnic Russian emigration took place in the wake of the Old Believer schism in the 17th century (for example, the Lipovans, who migrated southwards around 1700). Later ethnic Russian communities, such as the Doukhobors (who emigrated to the Transcaucasus from 1841 and onwards to Canada from 1899), also emigrated as religious dissidents fleeing centrist authority.

Ethnic Russians migrated from Russia proper throughout the Russian Empire, and later the Soviet Union, sometimes at the encouragement of the government. After the Belavezha Accords of December 1991, many ethnic Russians found themselves in newly independent states outside of Russia, notably the Baltic states, Ukraine, and in Central Asia. They represent the largest number of ethnic Russians living outside Russia. Russians distinguish these "migrations," however, from several bursts of emigration in the twentieth century.

A sizable "wave" of ethnic Russians emigrated in the wake of the October Revolution of 1917 and Civil War of 1917-1922. They became known collectively as the White émigrés. This emigration is also referred to as the "first wave", even though previous emigrations had taken place, as it was comprised the first emigrants to have left in the wake of the communist revolution, and because it exhibited a heavily political character.

A smaller group of Russians, often referred to by Russians as the "second wave" of Russian emigration, left during World War II. They were refugees, Soviet POWs, eastern workers, or surviving veterans of the Russian Liberation Army and other anti-communist armed units who had served under the German command and evaded forced repatriation. In the immediate postwar period, the largest Russian communities in the emigration settled in Germany, Canada, the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia.

In the 1970s a number of Russian-speaking Soviet citizens (predominantly Jews) emigrated to Israel and to the U.S. for political and economic reasons, and also to escape antisemitism. The KGB forced some Soviet dissidents to emigrate, threatening them with arrest. This group is often called the "third wave" of Russian emigration.

At the beginning of the 1990s, Russia experienced one of the most dramatic periods in its history; as a result, the former administrative Russian republic of the Soviet Union became a separate sovereign state. The collapse of the USSR resulted in an upsurge of international migrations to and from Russia, and the overwhelming number of them involve population movements between Russia and other post-Soviet states.[1] Israel and Germany received the largest shares of Russian-speaking immigrants (Israel, predominantly Jews; Germany, predominantly ethnic Germans and Jews) in the 1990s, because of incentives provided by the governments of both countries.


Continent/Country Russian diaspora
Europe 11,564,754
 Ukraine 8,334,000[2]
 Belarus 785,000[3]
 Latvia 556,434[4]
 Estonia 324,431[5]
 Lithuania 220,000[6]
 Moldova 202,000[7]
 Germany 178,600 - 2,000,000[8]
 Italy 132,120[9]
 France 115,000[10]
 Spain 52,832[11]
 Finland 51,683[12]
 Belgium 50,000[13]
 United Kingdom 32,000[14]
 Austria 30,249[15]
 Romania 30,000[16]
 Bulgaria 15,595[17]
 Norway 13,914[18]
 Greece 13,635[citation needed]
 Poland 10,244[citation needed]
 Sweden 8,900[19]
 Hungary 5,489[20]
 Portugal 5,114 (2007 census)[citation needed]
 Czech Republic 5,062[21]
 Serbia 2,588[22]
 Cyprus 10,000[citation needed]
 Luxembourg 943[23]
Asia 8,435,084
 Kazakhstan 4,480,000[24]
 Israel >1,000,000[25]
 Uzbekistan 1,653,478[26]
 Kyrgyzstan 604,000[27][28]
 Turkmenistan 314,000[29]
 Turkey 3,514 (2002)[30]
 Georgia 67,671[31][32]
 Azerbaijan 144,000[33][34]
 Tajikistan 68,200[35]
 United Arab Emirates 56,600[36]
 Lebanon 40,000[citation needed]
 China 15,600[37]
 Armenia 14,660[38]
 North Korea and  South Korea 9,622[citation needed]
 Japan 6,000[citation needed]
 Syria 4,811[39]
 Mongolia 4,100[40]
 Jordan 3,033[38]
 Afghanistan 1,500[citation needed]
 Philippines 1000[41]
 Pakistan 680[citation needed]
 Bangladesh 350[citation needed]
 India 140[citation needed]
Americas 7,002,547
 United States 3,163,084[42]
 Canada 550,521[43]
 Brazil 980,000[44]
 Cuba 50,200[45]
 Argentina 370,000[46]
 Chile 25,000[citation needed]
 Puerto Rico 269[47]
 Venezuela 34,600[48]
 Uruguay 131,680[citation needed]
 Mexico 1,293[49]
 Peru 1,000[citation needed]
Oceania 77,785
 Australia 67,550[50]
 New Zealand 10,235[51]
Africa 1,819
 South Africa 1,300[52]
 Nigeria 950[52]
 Ethiopia 319[53]
 Egypt 200[23]
Total 27,081,989

Statistics compiled using local country statistics or best available estimates.

Former USSR[edit]

Ethnic Russians in former Soviet Union states according to the most recent census

Today the largest ethnic Russian diasporas outside of Russia exist in former Soviet states such as Ukraine (about 8 million), Kazakhstan (about 4.5 million),[54] Belarus (about 1.2 million), Latvia (about 620,000), Uzbekistan (about 650, 000)[55] and Kyrgyzstan (about 600,000).[56]

The situation faced by ethnic Russian diasporas varied widely. In Belarus there was no perceivable change in status. While in Estonia and Latvia[57] they were labelled foreigners or non-citizens if none of their ancestors had been a citizen of these countries before Soviet occupation and if they did not request Russian Federation citizenship during the period it was available,

East Asia[edit]

Russians (eluosizu) are one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. There are approximately 15,600, living mostly in northern Xinjiang, and also in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang. In the 1920s Harbin was flooded with 100,000 to 200,000 Russian White émigrés fleeing from Russia. Some Harbin Russians moved to other cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, and Tianjin. By the 1930s, Shanghai's Russian community had grown to more than 25,000.[58]

There are also smaller numbers of Russians in Japan and in Korea. The Japanese government disputes Russia's claim to the Kuril Islands, which were annexed by the USSR in 1945 after Japan's surrender in World War II. The Red Army expelled all Japanese from the island chain, which was resettled by Russians and other Soviet nationalities.[citation needed] A few Russians also settled in the Korean peninsula in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[59] The population of Russians in Singapore was estimated at no more than a thousand by the local Russian embassy in 2008; they are a largely professional and business-oriented expatriate community, and count among their numbers more than a hundred company owners or local heads of branches of large Russian multinationals.[60]


Russian settlement in Mexico was minimal but well documented in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A breakaway sect of Old Believers of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Molokans arrived in Baja California in the 1880s-1920s to escape persecution from Tsarist Russia. The Molokans received a land grant in the Guadalupe Valley south of Ensenada to establish a few villages and maintained their Russian culture for a few decades before they were abandoned; cemeteries bearing Cyrillic letters remain.[citation needed] Dissenters of the official Soviet Communist party like the Trotskyites along with leader Leon Trotsky found refuge in Mexico in the 1930s, where Trotsky himself was assassinated by Ramon Mercader in 1940.

Russian Orthodox Church in Belgrade, Serbia


There are also small Russian communities in Eastern and Central European nations such as Germany and in the Balkans. These communities may identify themselves either as Russians or citizens of these countries, or both, to varying degrees.


  1. ^ Uma A. Segal Professor of Social Work University of Missouri; Doreen Elliott Professor of Social Work University of Texas at Arlington; Nazneen S. Mayadas Professor Emerita University of Texas at Arlington (13 December 2009). Immigration Worldwide : Policies, Practices, and Trends: Policies, Practices, and Trends. Oxford University Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-19-974167-0. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
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  3. ^ (2009)
  5. ^ (2013)
  6. ^ (2001)
  7. ^ (2004)
  8. ^ (2003)
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  11. ^
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  13. ^ How many Russians in Belgium?
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  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ Informatii utile | Agentia Nationala pentru Intreprinderi Mici si Mijlocii
  17. ^ (2002 census)
  18. ^ Statistics Norway
  19. ^ Joshua project - Ethnic groups of Sweden
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  21. ^ (2002 census)
  22. ^ (2002 census)
  23. ^ a b
  24. ^ (1999 census)
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ (1999)
  28. ^ 13.5% of the population -
  29. ^ Turkmen pledge on Russian rights, BBC News
  30. ^ Date census 2002
  31. ^ (2002 census)
  32. ^ Georgia: Ethnic Russians Feel Insulated From Tensions, Radio Free Europe
  33. ^ CIA - The World Factbook
  34. ^ Southern Caucasus: Facing Integration Problems, Ethnic Russians Long For Better Life
  35. ^ (2000)
  36. ^ Créditos
  37. ^ (2000 census)
  38. ^ a b (2002 census)
  39. ^ (2009 census) []
  40. ^ [2]
  41. ^ Population by country of citizenship, sex, and urban/rural residence; each census, 1985–2004, United Nations Statistics Division, 2005, retrieved 2011-06-15 ; figure for Russia is at line 2317
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  43. ^
  44. ^ (2005)
  45. ^ Официальная статистика Кубы за 2002 г.
  46. ^ Rusos en Argentina
  47. ^
  48. ^ Joshua Project - Ethnic People Groups of Venezuela
  49. ^ (2000 census)
  50. ^ Category No. 2068.0 - 2006 Census Tables
  51. ^ (2006 census)
  52. ^ a b Orthodox Church of the South Africa
  53. ^
  54. ^ Robert Greenall, Russians left behind in Central Asia, BBC News, 23 November 2005.
  55. ^ Uzbekistan: People: Ethnic Groups. World Factbook of CIA
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  58. ^ Tales of Old Shanghai - cultures - Russians
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  60. ^ Drankina, Yekaterina (2008-03-10), "Сингапурский десант", Kommersant Den'gi 9 (664), retrieved 2009-07-30