Russian Diaspora: A Global Community

  • October 22, 2019      Friendly Borders Staff

Moscow – How often do you see Russian communities in another country? Nowadays, Russians living outside of their country are estimated to be more than 20 million. Throughout history, there have been various movements of ethnic Russians. This episode of emigration is recorded and not limited to the indigenous communities but also includes Russian-speaking people; that is, those whose native language is Russian. They could even be Belarusians, Jews, and Tatars.

If the size of Russian communities living outside of their home country is summed, the largest one now would be in the United States. It is good to note that this is not a recent event; it occurred over many years. However, with the immediate concerns of the past, it is difficult to have an accurate record of the exact numbers as well as identification of individuals during the diaspora.

History of Russian Emigration

It is believed that in the 17th century, the ethnic Russians started to move to various communities. One of the reasons for such is the need for religious nonconformists to flee from centrist authorities. However, it did not stop there.

Looking at the timeframe of the Russian diaspora, it can be divided into three divisions, or what others may consider as diasporic waves. In order to classify these diasporic waves, one has to look into the country’s history. These particular waves are classified based on the political motivation that led to the emigration of Russians throughout the decades but does not mean that it is the only reason for the Russian diaspora.

The First Wave, also known as the White Wave, happened when people left Russia in 1917 during the Communist Revolution. This movement left a great mark on the number of Russians who chose to build a different community outside of their country. This period is marked by the emigrations of 1917 up to 1922.

The Second Wave occurred when Russians moved during World War II. This one is relatively smaller compared to the first one. Finally, the Third Wave happened when the people emigrated throughout the succeeding decades from the 1950s to the 1980s. In this period, most of the emigres also included a majority of Russian-speaking groups who were Armenians, Germans, Jews, and those who live close to the borders of the Russian Empire.

Promoting Language and Culture

In most recent times, organizations and even the government see the need to discuss the growing communities of Russians outside their borders. It is good to know that people are now considering learning more about the proper representation of Russian identity, values, and even language for those who left their home country. Discussions by government leaders and community leaders are needed to make sure that the Russian diaspora may also provide as a means to understand the language diaspora that is happening all over the world. As communities are built, there is a question of properly passing the Russian ethnic culture and language to the younger generation.

This discussion started in 2010, which also viewed the Russian diaspora as a form of Russian globalization. That may have been a good start but more consistent actions are still needed to make sure that the diaspora does not negatively impact the preservation of Russian culture. As globalization occurs further and diasporas increase, more people may see new forms as well as a number of influences towards the Russian language, culture, and practices.

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