This chapter summarizes the issues of emigration from the countries that formed the Commonwealth of Independent States immediately after the breakup of the USSR some 25 years ago, to non-CIS countries. It is based on various statistical sources from host countries and migration databases of international organizations (Eurostat, OECD, UN Population Division, UNESCO, UNHCR). The scale of emigration from the former Soviet republics was massive. There were two emigration periods, each having its own geography, intensity, and reasons. The emigration outflow was strongest in the 1990s. Its size and geography were largely determined by the repatriation movement of Germans, Jews, Greeks, and economic and political consequences of the breakup of the USSR. In the 2000s, the geography of emigration from the CIS expanded and become in-line with global mobility trends. As a result, new migrant communities emerged in many countries. Permanent residents from post-Soviet countries are especially numerous in Germany, Israel, the USA, and Italy.
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Georgia joined the CIS in 1993 but withdrew its membership in 2008. Ukraine ended its participation in the CIS statutory body in 2018. In this chapter, we consider all 12 former Soviet republics which initially formed the CIS. In this context, the New Independent States are a synonym of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Emigration from the Baltic countries is not considered here. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have never been a part of the CIS, and in 2004 they joined the European Union and the Schengen Agreement. Emigration from these countries was formed in economic and political conditions different from the CIS countries.
In the Russian language literature, the countries of the “near abroad” include the former Soviet republics; all other countries are referred to as the “far abroad” countries. After their accession to the EU, the Baltic countries were often referred to as the “far abroad” countries.
We are speaking about permanent migration, i.e., when people move from one country to another to change their permanent place of residence. In the case of countries of origin, we are talking about emigrants and emigration, and in the case of destination countries we are talking about immigrants and immigration.
The study used electronically available data from statistical offices of all the mentioned countries. They are numerous, so we do not specify them in detail. Other sources used in the study are noted in the text.
In the pre-Gorbachev era, the practice of denying exit permission to those who applied for emigration was very common. Such people were called “denied persons.” In the late 1980s the number of denied persons was insignificant. In 1990, 870 USSR citizens were denied travel abroad due to false information about themselves or for security reasons.
Komsomol—the Young Communist League.
Evangelical Christians, and members of the Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches.
Parole allows an individual, who may be inadmissible or otherwise ineligible for admission into the USA, to be paroled into the USA for a temporary period. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows the secretary of Homeland Security to use their discretion to parole any foreign national applying for admission into the USA temporarily for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.
Excluding Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Available fragmentary information from the reports of real estate agencies indicate that the richest part of the Russian society and, obviously, other CIS countries preferred to buy property in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and France. A few years ago, Russians accounted for 20% of all purchases in the real estate market in London and Paris, with an average value of 5.5 million dollars Algarve Daily News 2014. Fifty-eight percent of ultrarich people in Russia have second/dual citizenship (Knight Frank 2018). The Russian middle class also began to buy real estate, but gave preference to other countries, such as Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, and Montenegro (Faley 2017). Most transactions were concentrated in the range from 100 to 200 thousand euros.
This assumption is for purposes of comparison with the USA data from Table 6.
These figures do not include the data for Ukraine. As you can see below, labor migration from Ukraine to Poland has dramatically grown recently.
We allocated those people who indicated their country of origin as “the former USSR” to different CIS countries in proportion of each country’s contribution to the total out-migration.
Ultrashort employment-related trips for a period of less than 3 months, as already noted, are not subjects of our study, since they are not related to migration according to the United Nations (1998).
But even more of them came for a period of less than 3 months. Thus, according to Ukrainian statistics, the majority of Ukrainian migrants work abroad (including Russia) from 1 to 3 months (Ukrstat 2017).
We are talking about visas H1A, H1B, H1C, H2A, H2B, H3, L1, O1, O2, P1, P2, P3, Q. Family members of holders of these visa categories are not included in the estimates.
The estimates in the table and the total estimate by countries differ from the respective estimates of the United Nations Population Division for 2017 (United Nations 2018). The reason for the differences is that we used the national estimates for 2017. In addition, we have taken into account the migrants from the “Former Soviet Union” who are not identified as a separate group of migrants in the database of the Population Division.
For purposes of this section, we used the Database on Immigrants in OECD Countries (DIOC), which contains information on demographic characteristics (age and gender), duration of stay, labor market outcomes (labor market status, occupations, sectors of activity), fields of study, educational attainment, and the place of birth for the population censuses of rounds 2000/2001, 2005/2006 and 2010/2011 (OECD 2019).
Gender balance is observed only with children. In older ages, women prevail due to higher mortality rates in men and due to prevalence of mothers among the parents who migrated with their children.
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Denisenko, M. (2020). Emigration from the CIS Countries: Old Intentions—New Regularities. In: Denisenko, M., Strozza, S., Light, M. (eds) Migration from the Newly Independent States. Societies and Political Orders in Transition. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-36075-7_5
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