Ethnic Russians in post-Soviet states

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

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR) in December 1991, about 25 million ethnic Russians in post-Soviet states found themselves living outside the Russian Federation (which the CIS treaty[which?] designated as the successor state to the USSR).

All former Soviet citizens had a time window within which they could transfer their former Soviet citizenship to Russian citizenship. Where they did not exercise that choice, their resulting citizenship status outside Russia varied by state: from no perceivable change in status - as in Belarus - to becoming permanently resident "non-citizens" - as in Estonia and Latvia, which restricted citizenship to their pre-World War II citizens and their offspring (regardless of ethnic group) upon restoration of their independence in continuity with their sovereign identities prior to June 1940.

However, most people in practice found the "time window" concept not feasible, as the citizenship issue linked closely to the issue of owning property owned by the state before privatization. For many people, a change of citizenship would actually mean relocating and leaving behind everything - or most of what they had previously owned or been able to access.

As of 2014 the largest ethnic Russian diaspora populations outside Russia live in the United States and in the "near abroad" countries. The populations involved include those in: Ukraine (about 8 million), Kazakhstan (about 4.5 million),[1] the United States (about 3 million), Belarus (about 1.2 million), Uzbekistan (about 650,000) Kyrgyzstan (about 360,000)[2] and Latvia (about 556,422).[3]

In June 2006 Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a plan to introduce national policy aiming at encouraging ethnic Russian immigration to Russia.[4]

Country Number of
ethnic Russians
Percent of
national population
As of
(census data)
 Armenia 11,862 0.4 2011
 Azerbaijan 119,300 1.35 2009
 Belarus 785,084 8.3 2009
 Estonia 326,235 25.2 2011
 Georgia 67,671 1.5 2002[a]
 Kazakhstan 3,793,764 23.7 2009
 Kyrgyzstan 369,939 6.4 2014
 Latvia 556,422 26.9 2011
 Lithuania 176,913 5.8 2011
 Moldova 369,896 9.4 2004
 Tajikistan 34,838 0.5 2010
 Turkmenistan 297,319 6.7 1995[b]
 Ukraine 8,334,141 17.2 2001
 Uzbekistan 1,653,478 8.4 1989[b]

^ Does not include Abkhazia (2011 census: 22,077 Russians or 9.1% of the population) or South Ossetia (2007 estimate: 2,100 Russians or 3.0% of the population).

^ In Turkmenistan, there were estimated to be at most 150,000 ethnic Russians as of 2007, or under 2% of the population. In Uzbekistan the same year, the Russian population stood at some 800,000 people or under 4% of the country.[5]


  1. ^ Robert Greenall, Russians left behind in Central Asia, BBC News, 23 November 2005.
  2. ^ "Ethnic composition of the population in Kyrgyzstan 1999–2014" (PDF) (in Russian). National Statistical Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Latvia: Ethnic Russians Divided On Moscow's Repatriation Scheme
  5. ^ Sebastien Peyrouse, " The Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language", p.5. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2008, ISBN 193-35493-27