Russian diaspora

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Map of the Russian diaspora.
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The Russian diaspora is the global community of ethnic Russians. The Russian-speaking (Russophone) diaspora are the people for whom Russian language is the native language, regardless of whether they are ethnic Russians or not.


A 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. One of the religious minorities that had a significant effect on emigration from Russia was the Russian Jewish Population.

Following the establishment of the State of Israel, many Russian Jews fled to the country along with their non-Jewish relatives, with the current estimate of Russians in Israel totalling 300,000[1] (1,000,000 including Russian Jews who in the Soviet Union were not registered as Russians but rather as ethnic Jews).[2]

The Russo-Japanese War, World War I, and the Russian Revolution that became a civil war happened in quick succession from 1904 through 1923 with some overlap and heightened the strain on Russia and particularly the men expected to participate in military service. A major reason for young men specifically to emigrate out of Russia was to avoid forced service in the Russian army.[3]

In the twentieth century, Emigration from the Soviet Union is often broken down into three "waves" (волны) of emigration. The waves are the "First Wave", or "White Wave", which left during the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then the Russian Civil War; the "Second Wave", which emigrated during and after World War II; and the "Third Wave", which emigrated in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

A sizable wave of ethnic Russians emigrated in the wake of the October Revolution of 1917 and the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922. They became known collectively as the White émigrés. That 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 the Russian emigration, left during World War II. They were refugees, Soviet POWs, eastern workers, or surviving veterans of the Russian Liberation Army and other collaborationist armed units that 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 United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Emigres who left after the death of Stalin but before perestroika, are often grouped into a "third wave". The emigres were mostly Jews, Armenians, Germans, and other peoples who resided outside the former borders of the Russian Empire but now found themselves inside the Soviet Union. Most left in the 1970s.

Protest of Russians living in the Czech Republic against the war in Ukraine

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia suffered an economic depression in the 1990s. This caused many Russians to leave Russia for Western countries. The economic depression ended in 2000. Also, during this time, ethnic Russians who lived in other post-Soviet states moved to Russia.[4]

Upon Vladimir Putin's 2022 invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent military mobilization ordered by Putin, Russians have been noted for fleeing the country, most notably to Kazakhstan and Turkey, whose presidents Tokayev and Erdogan respectively have been very critical of Putin's war and in Tokayev's case, sympathetic to Russians leaving the country.[5][6]


Some 20 to 30 million ethnic Russians are estimated to live outside the bounds of the Russian Federation (depending on the definition of "ethnicity").[citation needed] Official census data often considers the only nationality.[citation needed] The number of native speakers of the Russian language who resided outside of the Russian Federation was estimated as close to 30 million by SIL Ethnologue in 2010.[7]

Russian Orthodox cathedral in Astana, Kazakhstan
Former Soviet Union
Country Ethnic Russians
Ukraine Ukraine 8,300,000 (2001)[8]
 Kazakhstan 3,512,925 (2020)[9]
Belarus Belarus 706,992 (2019)[10]
 Uzbekistan 640,000
Latvia Latvia 471,276 (2020)[11]
 Kyrgyzstan 400,000[12][13]
Estonia Estonia 310,000[14]
 Turkmenistan 300,000[15]
Lithuania Lithuania 180,000 (2011)[16]
 Azerbaijan 140,000[17][18]
Moldova Moldova 111,000 (2014)[19]
 Tajikistan 68,200[20]
 Georgia 26,586[21][22]
 Armenia 11,911 (2002)[23]
Former Warsaw Pact
Country Ethnic Russians
 Romania 23,000[24]
 Bulgaria 15,595[25]
Poland Poland 13,000[26]
Outside former Soviet Union or Warsaw Pact
Country Ethnic Russians
United States United States 3,100,000[27]
Brazil Brazil 1,800,000[28]
Germany Germany 1,213,000[29]
Canada Canada 622,445[30]
France France 200,000 to 500,000 [31]
 Argentina 350,000 [32]
Israel Israel 300,000[33]
 Turkey 210,000 (2022)[34]
Italy Italy 120,000 (2006)[1]
Finland Finland 78,400 (2015)[35]
 United Kingdom 73,000 (2020)[36]
 Spain 70,927 (2016)[37]
 Australia 67,550[38]
 United Arab Emirates 56,600[39]
 Cuba 50,200[39]
 Venezuela 34,600[40]
 Austria 30,249[41]
 Sweden 20,930[42]
 Belgium 20,000[43]
 China 15,600[44]
India India 6,000 to 15,000[45]
 Norway 13,914[46]
 New Zealand 10,235[47]
Japan Japan 9,223[48]
Portugal Portugal 5,103
 Hong Kong 5,000[49]
 Qatar 5,000[50]
Singapore Singapore 4,500[51]
Serbia Serbia 3,290[52]
Mexico Mexico 1,600 to 2,000[53]

Former USSR[edit]

Today the largest ethnic Russian diasporas outside of Russia exist in former Soviet states such as Ukraine (about 9 million), Kazakhstan (3,644,529 or 20.61% in 2016),[54] Belarus (about 1.5 million), Uzbekistan (about 650,000)[55] Kyrgyzstan (about 600,000)[56] and Latvia (471,276 or 24.7% in 2020).[11]

The situation faced by ethnic Russian diasporas varied widely. In Belarus, there was no perceivable change in status, but in Estonia and Latvia,[57] they were deemed non-citizens if none of their ancestors had been a citizen of those countries before the Soviet occupation in 1940 and they did not request Russian citizenship while it was available.

In March 2022, a week after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 82% of ethnic Russians living in Ukraine said they did not believe that any part of Ukraine was rightfully part of Russia, according to Lord Ashcroft's polls which did not include Crimea and the separatist-controlled part of Donbas.[58] 65% of Ukrainians – including 88% of those of Russian ethnicity – agreed that "despite our differences there is more that unites ethnic Russians living in Ukraine and Ukrainians than divides us."[58]

East Asia and Southeast Asia[edit]

Russian Orthodox Saint Sofia Church in Harbin, China

Russians (eluosizu) are one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. They 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 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.[59]

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 Soviet Union in 1945 after the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. The Soviet 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 the early 20th centuries.[60]

The population of Russians in Singapore is estimated at 4,500 by local Russian embassy in 2018;[61] they are a largely-professional and business-oriented expatriate community, and among them are hundreds of company owners or local heads of branches of large Russian multinationals.[62] President Vladimir Putin visited Singapore on 13 November 2018 to break ground for Russian Cultural Center, which will be home for the first Russian Orthodox church in the region.[63] During the meeting of State Heads, Mdm. Halimah mentioned that there were 690 Russian companies in Singapore [64] There are about 40 Russian families living in the Manila Philippines


Protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine outside the Russian Consulate in New York City on 24 February 2022

Russian settlement in Mexico was minimal but well documented in the 19th and the early 20th centuries. A few breakaway sectarians from the Russian Orthodox Church, partial tribes of Spiritual Christian Pryguny arrived in Los Angeles beginning in 1904 to escape persecution from Tsarist Russia and were diverted to purchase and colonize land in the Guadalupe Valley northeast of Ensenada to establish a few villages in which they maintained their Russian culture for a few decades before they were abandoned; cemeteries bearing Cyrillic letters remain.[citation needed]

In the late 1800s, there was a large influx of Jewish immigrants to the United States from Russia and Eastern Europe to escape religious persecution. From the third of the Jewish population that left the area, roughly eighty percent resettled in America. There, many still desired to hold onto their Russian identities and settled in areas with large amounts of Russian immigrants already. Local populations were generally distrustful of their cultural differences.[3]

Dissenters of the official Soviet Communist Party like the Trotskyites such as its leader, Leon Trotsky, found refuge in Mexico in the 1930s, where Trotsky himself was assassinated by Ramon Mercader in 1940.

Some Ukrainian Americans, Belarusian Americans, Russian-speaking Jewish Americans, Russian-speaking German Americans, Georgian Americans, Azerbaijani Americans, Armenian Americans, and Rusyn Americans identify as Russian American.[citation needed]


Russian Orthodox Church in Belgrade, Serbia

Finland borders Russia directly (Finland was an autonomous Russian Grand Duchy between 1809 and 1917 but not part of the Soviet Union, which came about in 1922) and has 31,000 Russian citizens, which amounts to 0.56% of the population,[65] and 80,000 (1.5%) speak Russian as their mother tongue.


In Albania, the presence of Russians first popped up at the end of 1921, with thousands of former White Army soldiers settling in the nation at the request of Prime Minister Ahmet Zogu.[66] After the Second World War, hundreds of Soviet civilian and military experts being sent to Albania.[66] The Soviet Union withdrew specialists from the country in 1961, resulting about half of the Russian diaspora being forced to remain in Albania permanently.[66] The Russian-speaking diaspora today numbers only about 300 people.[66]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ "Monthly Bulletin of Statistics". Retrieved 2011-03-22.
  3. ^ a b Diner, Hasia R (2019), The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000, University of California Press, pp. 71–111, doi:10.1525/9780520939929, ISBN 978-0-520-93992-9, S2CID 243416759, retrieved 2020-12-08
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Salieva, Ivan Watson,Rebecca Wright,Tom Booth,Dinara (2022-10-09). "Russian draft dodgers pour into Kazakhstan to escape Putin's war". CNN. Retrieved 2022-10-10.
  6. ^ "Thousands of Russians continue to arrive in Turkey, fleeing conscription". Retrieved 2022-10-10.
  7. ^ reporting 137 million native speakers within the Russian Federation as of 2010, out of 167 million native speakers worldwide. Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2014. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Seventeenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International
  8. ^ out of 8.3 million Ukrainian residents who identified as ethnic Russians, 0.3 million identified Ukrainian as their primary language; conversely, out of 37.5 million who identified as ethnic Ukrainians, 5.5 million identified Russian as their primary language. (2001 census) Archived 2006-11-26 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "The population of the Republic of Kazakhstan by individual ethnic groups at the beginning of 2020". Committee on Statistics of the Ministry of National Economy of the Republic of Kazakhstan. 27 April 2020. Retrieved 25 June 2020. (in Kazakh)
  10. ^ "Общая численность населения, численность населения по возрасту и полу, состоянию в браке, уровню образования, национальностям, языку, источникам средств к существованию по Республике Беларусь".
  11. ^ a b "Population number decreases slower". Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. May 28, 2020. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
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  14. ^ CIA Factbook in 2014 estimates 24.8% ethnic Russians out of a population of 1.26 million. (2013)
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  16. ^ 5.8% of the total population according to the Lithuanian census of 2011.
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  18. ^ "Southern Caucasus: Facing Integration Problems, Ethnic Russians Long For Better Life". Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  19. ^ 111,726 or 4.1% of total population according to the 2014 census "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-11-24. Retrieved 2006-12-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  22. ^ Georgia: Ethnic Russians Feel Insulated From Tensions, Radio Free Europe
  23. ^ "(2002 census)" (PDF). Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  24. ^ "Informatii utile - Agentia Nationala pentru Intreprinderi Mici si Mijlocii". Archived from the original on 13 May 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  25. ^ "National Statistical Institute". Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  26. ^ Polish Statistics (PDF). 2011. ISBN 978-83-7027-521-1. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  27. ^ self-reported ethnicity as of 2007; 0.4 million Russian-born.
  28. ^ "Contra país estagnado, comunidade russa foge e se estabelece no Brasil". (in Brazilian Portuguese). 2018-06-14. Retrieved 2022-03-01.
  29. ^ "Russian migrants residing in Germany—this includes current and former citizens of the Russian Federation as well as former citizens of the Soviet Union". Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  30. ^ self-reported ethnic origin as of 2016; 120,165 gave Russian as single ethnic origin; an additional 502,280 gave Russian as one of several ethnic origins im "multiple ethnic origins responses". [1]
  31. ^ "La communauté russe en France est "éclectique"". Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  32. ^ ://
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  35. ^ "Population".
  36. ^ "Nationality and country of birth by age, sex and qualifications Jan - Dec 2013 (Excel sheet 60Kb)". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 11 June 2014.. 35,000 Russian nationals and 39,000 Russian-born residents estimated for 2013 (based on 2011 data).
  37. ^ "Foreign population by nationality, provinces, sex and year". Instituto Nacional de Estadística. Spain's National Institute of Statistics. 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017. Search ("consultar selección") by "Nacionalidad" = "Rusia", "Provincias" = "TOTAL ESPAÑA", "Sexo" = "Ambos sexos" (both sexes) and "Año" = Your year of choice.
  38. ^ "Australian Bureau of Statistics". Retrieved 5 April 2015.
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  40. ^ Joshua Project. "Country - Venezuela". Retrieved 5 April 2015.
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  42. ^ "Folkmängd efter födelseland 1900–2017" (in Swedish). Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  43. ^ Belgian residents from the ex-USSR countries that resided in Belgium in 2008: 21,655. An estimate of 50,000 was given by diaspora organisation, based on extrapolation of naturalization data, online polls among their members, and a loose definition of "Russian" as anyone who has been exposed to the Soviet education system or who speaks Russian.
  44. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2006-12-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  53. ^ "Emigrantes de México según país de destino (2019)". Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  54. ^ "Численность населения Республики Казахстан по отдельным этносам на начало 2016 года". Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  55. ^ Uzbekistan: People: Ethnic Groups. World Factbook of CIA
  56. ^ John Pike. "KYRGYZSTAN: Economic disparities driving inter-ethnic conflict". Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  57. ^ "Russians beyond the Limits of Russia" Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine, O.I. Vendina, Geography newspaper, no. 11, 2001 (in Russian)
  58. ^ a b "Ukrainians want to stay and fight, but don't see Russian people as the enemy. A remarkable poll from Kyiv". European Leadership Network. 14 March 2022.
  59. ^ "Tales of Old Shanghai - cultures - Russians". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  60. ^ Clark, Donald N. (1994), "Vanished Exiles: The Prewar Russian Community in Korea", in Dae-Sook Suh (ed.), Korean Studies: New Pacific Currents, University of Hawaii Press, pp. 41–58, ISBN 0-8248-1598-X
  61. ^ Pang Xue Qiang (31 March 2018). "Meet the Russian risk takers making safe Singapore their home".
  62. ^ Drankina, Yekaterina (2008-03-10), "Сингапурский десант", Kommersant Den'gi, vol. 9, no. 664, retrieved 2009-07-30
  63. ^ "President Halimah & Putin break ground for new Russian Cultural Centre & Orthodox church", Mothership, 2018-11-13
  64. ^ "Despite differences, Singapore and Russia have 'long-standing friendship': President Halimah", Channel News Asia, 2018-11-13
  65. ^ Tilastokeskus: Ulkomaiden kansalaiset (Statistics Finland: Foreign Citizenship) in Finnish, 2013
  66. ^ a b c d "The Tragedy of Albania's Russian Community". Retrieved 2021-06-26.

External links[edit]