Tag Archives: Russia

Mikhail Alexseev speaking on "Russia: Challenges to the Post-Imperial Migration State"

Finally things seem to have settled into some kind of groove. We have had dinner, we have had drinks, and now our first plenary has begun. I’ve had some time to speak with Mikhail over dinner–very pleasant fellow, and very sharp on these issues.

Some highlights– that as the Russian empire expanded, it’s diversity expanded as well, because the empire absorbed many non-Russian groups. At the time, it was not perceived as threatening because power increased with that expansion. But now, Russia is very diverse, and the empire is no longer so powerful. Finally, right now Russian birth and death rates are such that even in the best case, the need to attract and absorb about 35,000,000 immigrants to maintain the existing population levels of about 140,000,000.

Ok, that wasn’t final–also, the ratio of ethnic Russians to other ethnicities inside Russia is shrinking already. Migrants are now coming from former Soviet Republics, and Russia has to deal with the spread of Islam and territorial vulnerability. And, most people when surveyed, would overwhelmingly prefer that the migrant populations were reduced.

Pictorial ethnic cleansing–kids, here is is the house of a Cossack; find the alien objects in the house and cross them out. This is a contemporary textbook aimed ad elementary school kids. (Cossacks were border guards, not quite, but almost vigilantes).

So the current context leads to quite serious tensions between ethnic Russians and other populations inside Russia, and Putin has made it very difficult for any immigrants to enter Russia, other than those from former Soviet Republics. Further, extremely high levels f latent xenophobia–well over 50% think all immigrants, legal or illegal, and their children, should be deported.

In sum:

  • Post-Soviet Russia changed rapidly from an empire to a global migration state, but institutions have lagged behind.
  • The Russian Imperial legacy, changing demographics, and migration challenge Russian identity and raise the threat of communal violence
  • Short-term restrictionist policies responding to these challenges have deep roots in the imperial identity and legacy, but they undermine Russia’s current and future status as a great power.

Great talk!