Russians in the South Caucasus: Factors of Dynamics in the Post-Soviet Period and Geodemographic Prospects

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: FIC Southern Scientific Center, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Russian Federation, Rostov-on-Don
Journal nameSotsiologicheskie issledovaniya
EditionIssue 9

    The collapse of the USSR sharply accelerated the depopulation of the South Caucasus, which fell from 783,000 to 140,000-148,000 people during the 1990s-2010s. The main demographic losses were due to outflows into Russia. The decline in the number of Russians was widespread and was accompanied by a serious deformation of their age and gender structure, with a noticeable predominance of women and older people. A noticeable part of the region’s settlement net (with the exception of Abkhazia) has lost its permanent Russian population. The epicenters of the Russian ethnic presence remain the capitals, and in rural areas − some settlements founded by Old Believers in the imperial period. The transformation of Russia into a guarantor of security for regional states (Abkhazia, South Ossetia) slowed the rate of loss of the Russian population, while confrontation with the Russian Federation (Georgia) markedly accelerated it. By 2050, the number of Russians in the region could decrease to 70-90 thou people. Baku will remain their largest medium. However, if current trends persist, in 30-50 years the Russian community of Abkhazia could become comparable in size to the Baku community. These two groups could comprise 85%-90% of the Russians in the South Caucasus in midcentury (47% in 1989). As the old-age communities continue to shrink, the prospects for the ethnic presence of Russians in the region will increasingly correlate with the size of the tourist flow and the size of the group of Russians who own local real estate. Russian military units stationed in the region will play a prominent role as major centers of the Russian population in some countries. At the same time, all these groups will no longer represent diasporas, complexly rooted ethnic communities with a high level of internal communication and the capacity for sustainable self-reproduction.

KeywordsSouth Caucasus, Russian population, geodemographic dynamics, settlement pattern, gender and age structure, migration, assimilation
AcknowledgmentThis article is a translation of: Сущий С.Я. Русские на Южном Кавказе: факторы динамики в постсоветский период и геодемографические перспективы // Sotsiologicheskie Issledovaniia. 2021. No 9: 27–41. DOI: 10.31857/S013216250015744-1
Publication date27.09.2021
Number of characters37037
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