Russians in the South Caucasus:
Factors of Dynamics in the Post-Soviet Period and Geodemographic Prospects
Dr. Sci. (Philos.), Chief researcher, Federal Research Center the Southern Scientific Center, Russian Academy of Sciences, Rostov-on-Don, Russia SS7707@mail.ru
The work was performed as part of the implementation of the State Assignment of the Southern Scientific Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences, state registration of the project No. AAAA-A19-119011190184-2.
Collapse of the USSR dramatically accelerated the process of depopulation of Russians in the South Caucasus. In the 1990–2010s, the Russian population of the region decreased from 783 thousand to 140–148 thousand people. Main losses were associated with the outflow to Russia. This decline was widespread and accompanied by serious deformations in age and sex structure of Russians. At present, women and older people are significantly predominant among them. A noticeable part of the settlements in the region (with the exception of Abkhazia) lost the Russian population. The capitals, as well as specific settlements in the countryside founded by the Old Believers during the Imperial period, remain the epicenters of the Russian ethnic presence. Transformation of Russia into the closest ally of the regional states (Abkhazia, South Ossetia) slowed down the rate of decline of their Russian population, while confrontation with Russia (Georgia) significantly accelerated this process. By 2050, number of Russians in the region may fall to 70–90 thousand people. Baku will remain the largest center of the Russian population in the region; however, Russian community of Abkhazia can become comparable to it. In the middle of the century, these two territorial groups may include 85–90% of the Russians of the entire region (in 1989 – 47%). As communities shrink, prospects for an ethnic Russian presence in the South Caucasus will increasingly correlate with the size of the tourist flow and the number of Russians owning local real estate. Russian military units will remain large (or main)centers of the Russian population in a number of countries in the region. Nevertheless, all these groups of Russians will no longer represent diasporas (rooted ethnic communities with a high level of internal communication and the ability to sustainably reproduce themselves).