THE NUMBERS AND DISTRIBUTION OF THE RUSSIAN POPULATION IN THE POST-SOVIET REPUBLICS AT THE TURN OF THE 21ST CENTURY
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The aim of the paper is to determine the number of the Russian population in the last phase of existence of the Soviet Union, and then to show the demographic consequences of the disintegration of this great empire. The spatial reference units are the federal republics, which turned at the beginning of the 1990s into sovereign states. Statistical analysis was carried out, showing the increase of the Russian population in the second half of the 20th century. The analysis was based on the population censuses in the USSR in 1959, 1970, 1979, and 1989. According to the last of these censuses the territory of the Soviet Union was inhabited by 286.1 million people, of whom 145.2 million declared to be of the Russian nationality. Most of them inhabited the Russian SSR, namely 119.9 million. The remaining 25.2 million of them were dispersed in the other 14 federal republics. The collapse of the communist system led to a new political situation. The consequence of the abrupt disintegration processes was appearance of the ethnic conflicts and mass migration movements. In the new sovereign countries the Russians did not play the hegemonic role any more. The worsening of their citizenship status and economic hardships caused mass exodus of the Russian population, leaving the new sovereign states. Russians moved primarily to the Russian Federation. These mass migrations, as well as the net result of the natural demographic processes, affected the ethnic structures of the post-Soviet republics, and especially the numbers of Russians living there. Determination of the scale of this phenomenon required a statistical analysis and then an evaluation from the point of view of the nature of processes taking place. The basis with this respect was provided by the population census carried out in the Russian Federation in 2002, and the censuses in the other post-Soviet republics. It turned out that the population of the entire post-Soviet territory was stable, but this was the effect of a significant demographic regress of the Slavonic countries, the Baltic states, Moldavia, Armenia and Georgia, with the simultaneous significant increase of population numbers in all the Muslim countries. Yet, the biggest changes in the numbers and in distribution affected the population of Russian nationality. During just a bit more than a decade the number of the inhabitants declaring the Russian nationality dropped by close to 12 million, of which - on the territory of the Russian Federation - by roughly 4 million, while in the remaining post-Soviet republics - by close to 8 million. This great demographic decrease was territorially differentiated. The paper explains the respective phenomena. The problems, associated with migrations, lowered birth rates, high mortality, and ageing of the Russian population became the object of an extensive debate national in Russia. This debate is not limited to only the demographic problems, and the economic, social, and especially the geopolitical consequences are discussed, as well. Thus, the paper also provides relevant comments.
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