Turks in Russia

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Turks in Russia
Total population
109,883 (2010 census)
Regions with significant populations
Turkish, Russian
Sunni Muslim, Orthodox Christianity

Turks in Russia (Turkish: Rusya Türkleri, Russian: Турки в России) are Turkish people who live in Russia. The community is largely made up of Meskhetian Turks and expatriates from Turkey as well as children of mixed ethnicity.[1]


Ottoman migration[edit]

The First All-Union Census of the Soviet Union in 1926 recorded 8,570 Ottoman Turks living in the Soviet Union. The Ottoman Turks are no longer listed separately in the census, as it is presumed that those who were living in Russia in the 1920s have subsequently either been assimilated into Russian society or have left the country.[2]

Meskhetian Turks migration[edit]

Turks in Russia according to the Russian Census
Russian census Turks
1939[3] 2,936
1959[4] 1,377
1970[5] 1,568
1979[6] 3,561
1989[7] 9,890
2002[8] 95,672a[›]
2010[9] 109,883b[›]

During World War II, the Soviet Union was preparing to launch a pressure campaign against Turkey. Vyacheslav Molotov, who was at the time the Minister of Foreign Affairs, made a request of the Turkish Ambassador in Moscow that Turkey surrender three Anatolian provinces (Kars, Ardahan and Artvin).[11] Thus, war against Turkey seemed possible, and Joseph Stalin wanted to commit a genocide to the strategic Turkish population situated in Meskheti, near the Turkish-Georgian border, since during the Russo-Turkish Wars the Turks of the region had been loyal to the Ottoman Empire and were therefore likely to be hostile to Soviet intentions.[11][12] In 1944, the Meskhetian Turks were forcefully deported from Meskheti, Georgia and accused of smuggling, banditry and espionage in collaboration with their kin across the Turkish border.[13]

Soviet authorities issued an official ruling that 17,000 Meskhetian Turks, virtually the entire Turkish population in the Ferghana Valley, be transported to Russia. Another 70,000 Meskhetian Turks from other parts of Uzbekistan soon followed the first wave of migrants and settled mainly in Azerbaijan and Russia.

In the late 1970s, the Stavropol and Krasnodar authorities visited various regions of Uzbekistan to invite and recruit Meskhetian Turks to work in agriculture enterprises in southern Russia.[10] In 1985, Moscow issued a proposal inviting more Meskhetian Turks to move to villages in southern Russia that had been abandoned by ethnic Russians who were moving to the cities. However, the Meskhetian Turks response was that they would only leave Uzbekistan if the move were to be to their homeland.[11] Then, in 1989, ethnic Uzbeks began a series of actions against the Turks; they became the victims of riots in the Ferghana valley which led to over a hundred deaths. Within days, Decision 503 was announced "inviting" the Turks to occupy the empty farms in southern Russia that they had resisted moving to for years and around 17,000 Meskhetian Turks were evacuated to Russia.[12][13] Meskhetian Turks maintain that Moscow had planned the Uzbek riots.[13] By the early 1990s, the 70,000 Meskhetian Turks who were still resident in Uzbekistan left for Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine due to fears of continued violence.[12]

Mainland Turkish migration[edit]

During the 2000s, Russia witnessed increasing numbers of immigrants from Turkey; the number of Turkish labour migrants grew, on average, by 30–50% per annum.[14] By 2008, over 130,000 Turkish citizens were working in Russia; most Turkish immigrants are those who married Russians in Turkey and then came to reside in the homeland of their spouse.[14]


According to the 2010 Russian Census, 105,058 people declared themselves as "Turks" and 4,825 stated that they were "Meskhetian Turks"; hence, the census showed that there was a total of 109,883 Turks living in the country.[9]


Meskhetian Turks in Russia, especially those in Krasnodar, have faced hostility from the local population. The Meskhetian Turks of Krasnodar have suffered significant human rights violations, including the deprivation of their citizenship. They have been deprived of civil, political and social rights and are prohibited from owning property and employment.[15] Since 2004, many are now leaving the Krasnodar region for the United States as refugees.[16]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ryazantsev 2009, 155.
  2. ^ Akiner 1983, 381.
  3. ^ Демоскоп Weekly. "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1939 года. Национальный состав населения по республикам СССР". Retrieved 2011-06-04.
  4. ^ Демоскоп Weekly. "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1959 года. Национальный состав населения по республикам СССР". Retrieved 2011-06-04.
  5. ^ Демоскоп Weekly. "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1970 года. Национальный состав населения по республикам СССР". Retrieved 2011-06-04.
  6. ^ Демоскоп Weekly. "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1979 года. Национальный состав населения по республикам СССР". Retrieved 2011-06-04.
  7. ^ Демоскоп Weekly. "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 года. Национальный состав населения по республикам СССР". Retrieved 2011-06-04.
  8. ^ Демоскоп Weekly. "Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года". Retrieved 2011-06-04.
  9. ^ a b Демоскоп Weekly. "Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 г. Национальный состав населения Российской Федерации". Retrieved 2012-01-30.
  10. ^ Ryazantsev 2009, 168.
  11. ^ Goltz 2009, 124.
  12. ^ a b Ryazantsev 2009, 167.
  13. ^ a b Goltz 2009, 125.
  14. ^ a b Ryazantsev 2009, 159.
  15. ^ Barton, Heffernan & Armstrong 2002, 9.
  16. ^ Coşkun 2009, 5.


^ a: The 2002 census recorded 92,415 Turks and 3,257 Meskhetian Turks.
^ b: The 2010 census recorded 105,058 Turks and 4,825 Meskhetian Turks.