The Russians abroad: “Russian Diaspora” or “Russian-speaking communities”?

The Russians abroad: “Russian Diaspora” or “Russian-speaking communities”?


Approximately 25-30 million of the Russians and representatives of other ethnos of Russia live outside the Russia. It means that the Russians of those ethnos living abroad rank the second place in the world following the Chinese. Traditional definition “Diaspora” is not applied in respect of the Russians and Russian citizens living outside the Russia. It’sdeterminedbyseveralpoints.

Firstly, the Russians, living abroad, represent very diversified class in point of ethnic, religious, social and political attributes. Russian emigrants of various nationalities came abroad by different reasons and in the frames of socio-economic and political conditions. Many of them speak Russian as a result of significant duration in Russia. Russian language along with country and origin  is real social instrument fastening the Russians abroad, including specially published newspapers and magazines in Russian. Migrants themselves and their company often call “the Russians” everybody who concerns Russia a bit (by place of origin, former territory of living, knowledge of Russian). In USA, Canada, Australia and many other states “The Russians” are called everybody who was born and came from the territory of former USSR despite of citizenship and ethnicity.

Secondly, the Russians are usually integrated in host communities very rapidly and successfully, and it often leads for refusal from Russian identity of migrants in the first generation. Successful assimilation of the Russians in the host communities is determined by their effort to integration, and also objective signs of migrants from Russia (high level of education, business activity, pragmatism, successful adaptation to new situation, rapid language acquisition).

Thirdly, consolidation and compact accommodation are not appropriate to the Russians. The Russians are usually consolidated under the influence of external threads and extreme external conditions. Organized state and public infrastructure of Russian migrants abroad is not practically developed. For example, “Russian” public organizations abroad operate as “clubs” for adapted migrants than support newly arriving migrants.

Fourthly, many of the Russians and representatives of Russian nations, living abroad, became emigrants as a result of modification of borders between the states, for example, after 1991 about 25 million Russians and other Russia’s nations stayed abroad that was unique form of diaspora or community emergence. Many of them are headed for the Russian Federation, aspire to get Russian citizenship or back to Russia.

The definition “Russian-speaking communities” is more rightful for the Russians and citizens of Russia, living abroad, than definition “Russian Diaspora”. Definition “communities” (in contrast to “Diaspora”) is more rightful because the Russians are weekly consolidated and not united, integrated successfully into host community and poorly oriented for the native land. Definition “communities” (in contrast to “community”) is applied because there are significant differences between the Russians in every country and also the region, besides they don’t interact. Definition “Russian-speaking” (in contrast “Russian”) is used because it’s very diversified ethnically and utilizes Russian language as means of communication.

Moderator: Dr.Theerathorn Yoongthong

January 30, 2015