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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Non-Russian Diasporas Creating Serious Problems for Moscow, Sokolov Says

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Paul Goble

Staunton, November 10 – While the Russian government has not had any difficulty getting Armenian and Azerbaijani diaspora organizations to support Kremlin policies in the Caucasus, it is facing a challenge from portions of them that increasingly undermine Russian foreign policy, Stoletiye commentator Andrey Sokolov says.

That is because an increasing number of Armenians and Azerbaijanis have become Russian citizens and risen to important positions in Russia media and academic life and often express the views of the places of their birth rather than those of the country of which they are now citizens, the author says (

It is of course natural for people to remember the places of their birth and to have their own views about them, but it is something else again when they acquire a new citizenship and speak out on Russian media as if they were expressing Russian views. That complicates Moscow’s foreign policy and triggers ethnic conflict.

This situation highlights an even more serious problem, Sokolov argues, and that is that with Russian demographic decline, the Russian capital is becoming ever less Russian. The authorities have been reluctant to release any data on the ethnic composition of Moscow’s population since the 2010 census.

The powers that be continue to insist that Moscow is 91.6 percent ethnic Russia as the last census showed and regularly trumpet the fact that the share of ethnic Russians had actually increased from the 89.7 percent recorded in the last Soviet census in 1989. But it is obvious to the unaided eye that all these figures are wrong, the commentator says.

Indeed, the fact that the people in power aren’t releasing more recent data is that the share of ethnic Russians in the city’s population is much lower, that the authorities are very much aware of that fact, but that for political reasons, they don’t want to call attention to it. Classified studies, he says, show this.

According to the figures from these sources which he says he has gained access to, “only about 30 percent” of Moscow’s population consists of ethnic Russians, and the second largest nationality are the Azerbaijanis with 14 percent. There are now more of them in Moscow than live in Baku.

Tatars form about 10 percent of the total, and there are more of them in the Russian capital than in Kazan. Ethnic Ukrainians form about 8 percent of the total, with Armenians forming five percent, and Central Asians another five percent. Also forming five percent are Asians from the Far East.

And despite the assumptions of many, people from the North Caucasus form only four percent of the capital’s total, with another three percent consisting of Belarusians, Georgians, Moldovans, Roma and Jews.  All this means that Slavs now are in a minority of about 40 percent, and Muslim peoples are rapidly moving to become the dominant group.

Sokolov does not cite a specific source for these figures, and they are certain to be denied by officials and disputed by demographers; but they do reflect a continuing and growing trend among Russian thinking that the country’s demographic decline is hitting ethnic Russians hardest and that they are as a result seeing their share of the population fall – even in Moscow.


Window on Eurasia — New Series