The Ticking Time Bomb called Vladivostok

Paul Goble reports:

One out of four people on the streets of the Far Eastern Russian city of Vladivostok are immigrants, but increasingly they come from Central Asia and even the North Caucasus rather than China, a shift that residents there and commentators in Moscow are still trying to adjust to.

An article in the city’s newspaper Zolotoy Rog suggests that workers and their families from the five post-Soviet Central Asian countries form an ever more significant share not only of the migrant flows into Russia’s Far East but also of that region’s population as a whole.

The paper’s Oleg Zhunusov provides no precise statistical data, but his article conveys the sense of residents there that Vladivostok “is becoming an Asian region not only geographically but in terms of ethnicity” and that this reflects in the first instance “the sharply increased flow of migrants from Central Asia.”

According to Zhunusov, there are “more than 30 national diasporas” registered with the authorities and more than 150,000 immigrants to the region, But “far from all are registering,” and those from the Central Asian republics, fleeing unemployment and “bloody conflicts” are less likely to be registered than are those from China or the Koreas.

A major reason why this influx of migrants is so noticeable is what the “Zolotoy rog” journalist calls “the unfavorable demographic situation” in the region. Since 1992, the population has declined by 352,000 over all to only 1.9 million, working age Russians are leaving for west of the Urals, the death rate exceeds the birthrate, and the population is aging. As a result, people feel that “the Asians are replacing the indigenous population.” And they are angry that Moscow’s demographic plans for the Russian Far East through 2025 do not address their concerns and require that those moving in adapt to local mores rather than continue to act as they did in their homelands.

And Russians in Vladivostok are focusing on a fundamental contradiction within Russian migration policy. Moscow sets quotas for “legal persons” like companies, but it allows the sale of “licenses” or “patents” to physical persons, that is individuals, who can thus bust the quotas with ease even when these are enforced.

This situation is rapidly coming to a head, Zhunusov says. “A significant portion of those arriving not only cannot write or even speak Russian. Moreover, their knowledge of the habits of the local population and Russian laws” is almost non-existent. Consequently, he concludes that all this is “creating conditions for conflicts.”

Zhunusov’s article is important for at least three reasons: First, it calls attention to “the other Asians” in the immigration flows in the Far East. For too long, commentators in Moscow and analysts in the West have focused only on the Chinese or perhaps the Koreans arriving there. The Central Asians may matter more.

Second, it highlights the way in which ethnic Russians in the Far East now view the Central Asians or even the North Caucasians as just as alien as the Chinese or others traditionally counted as Asians. That in turn means that the more Central Asians who come to Siberia or the Far East, the greater tensions are likely to be.

And third, Zhunusov’s article suggests that the people of Siberia and the Russian Far East are now on a collision course with Moscow, whose representatives in the North Caucasus like Ingushetia’s Yunus-Bek Yevkurov want to send more North Caucasians to Russia east of the Urals to solve the unemployment problem in the North Caucasus.

Sending such people there might help solve one socio-political problem in the troubled North Caucasus, Zhunusov’s article suggests, only at the price of exacerbating, possibly to the level of serious violence, socio-political problems elsewhere, far deeper inside the Russian Federation.

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14 responses to “The Ticking Time Bomb called Vladivostok

  1. @As a result, people feel that “the Asians are replacing the indigenous population.” (…) Second, it highlights the way in which ethnic Russians in the Far East now view the Central Asians or even the North Caucasians as just as alien as the Chinese or others traditionally counted as Asians.

    Silly racists. The Asians are “the indigenous population” there, not them.

    • Indeed Robert, well said.

    • Dear Robert,

      But what is the concept of Asianess or Orientalism in this sense then? Are not those who live in Vladivostok Asians? Yes they are, I can say this because I was born and grew up there and feel myself more Asian or Oriental than Russian. If you go to Vladivostok you can see the difference between let’s say central part of Russia and Far East. The culture, habits are different. There is a clear influence from all Asia there.

      Yes there are examples of discrimination there and hate speech towards Chinese. But this is a complex issue and the same hate speech exist in the bordering cities of China towards Russians from Far East.

  2. Hey, you two brain dead guys should at least sometimes make an effort and think.

  3. Dymasha, for God’s sake, the poor russians tried to lease city of Vladivostok to Chinese for 75 years to get chinese to rebuild it; and chinese totally ignored the stupid request. Chinese know they DO NOT HAVE TO DO A THING TO RETAKE THE FAR EAST STOLEN FROM CHINA 200 YEARS AGO. Anything more humiliating???

    • I wonder why do you want to find something humiliating for others – have you underwent a humiliation so strong in your past? Then you very well may rehab, just consult professionals, they’ll help you.

      • dymasha, thanks for agreeing with me. You cannot get more humiliating than trying to give away your ‘own’ territory… By the way, the news from China during China/Russia summit perheps equal this. Russia begged China to diversify its investment in Russia beyond gas and oil and got a middle finger from Chinese. So, it is official Russia is the official provided of commodities to the first world. Congratulation!

        • “So, it is official Russia is the official provided of commodities to the first world”, “perheps” , “you cannot get more humiliating”, “Congratulation!”– are you going to continue asking people where they learned their English after that? Hey, most of the commenters, both of us included, are not native speakers here. And some of us — like Andrew — make mistakes in their native language. In any case, this discussion is not necessarily a competition in elocution. Even if you wrote in a perfect English, it would be stupid on your account to point out others’ grammar mistakes.

          On the substance, I understand you were traumatized by seeing a dirty public toilet at a Russian railway station, and your parents probably brought you up with a slew of complexes on account of the Partitions. You, however, will be a more effective defender of your causes — I yet to understand what they are — if you be civil and more factual.

          On this post, what makes you think Russia “begged” China, got a “middle finger” from the Chinese? that Russia gives away territories? Where are the links, quotes, names? Also, what your suggestions Russia should do? Or you just get high gloating about Russia’s real or imaginary flaws? No doubt there are lots of those, and the Russians know them better than anyone else. Here, most of the Russian posters are trying to educate you (i) why some of the flaws you point out are imaginary; (ii) what are real priorities for the country and (iii) where people will actually appreciate your help in bridging the gap between Russia and you making your neighborhood more pleasant and safe for all and where confrontation is a zero sum game and should be approached with diplopmacy and tact.

          Grow up, polak mały.

          • Hey, AT, the “aaausa” girlie is far from being in good mental health, so don’t waste your time.

            She’s Georgian, most likely, and feels too deeply offended to enjoy life.

        • You pointed out how bad Dmitry’s English was. Where did you learn yours? The University of Warsaw?

  4. You people are mean on this subject. Let’s read a little together. Convention of Peking signed in the end of Second Opium Wars: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_of_Peking

    Even though the signed treaty is considered as unequal, it’s impossible to call far east Russians a “racists” and declare land there as “stolen”. You could call them occupants but then, following your logic, all Americans are both racists and occupants on their land today.

    Russian Empire and then Soviet Union invested a lot to make their far east an “indigenous territory” I would say. Also for western countries ceded Chinese territories would always be far colonies while for Russia received territories were attached to it’s actual borders. This also played a significant role in transforming received territories into “native”.

    • “All Americans” wouldn’t panic in the case of the Native Americans “replacing the indigenous population” of theirs somewhere in America.

    • That’s true, they wouldn’t, but what you say overall is a slightly different thing. Native Americans are actually registered citizens of USA, they lived on it’s land for ages. Thus, no reason for panic. In Russia, on the contrary, absolute majority of Chinese (or lets say Asians) come to it’s far east illegally, i. e. they hadn’t live there for at least one generation after 150 years. And even if they come legally, they still are foreigners with different culture. I believe that’s why they are considered “replacing indigenous population” in a quote from the article.

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