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The term Russian diaspora refers to the global community of ethnic Russians, usually more specifically those who maintain some kind of connection, even if ephemeral, to the land of their ancestors and maintain their feeling of Russian national identity within a local community.

The term "Russian speaking (Russophone) diaspora" (русскоговорящая диаспора) is used to describe people for whom Russian language is the native language regardless whether they are ethnic Russians or Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, Chechens etc.


The earliest significant wave of ethnic Russian emigration took place in the wake of the Old Believer schism in the 17th century (see, for example, Lipovans). On some occasions later ethnic Russian communities, such as Doukhobors, also emigrated as religious dissidents fleeing the central authority.

A sizable "wave" of ethnic Russians emigrated during a short time period in the wake of the October Revolution and Civil War, known collectively as the White emigres. It is also referred to as the "first wave", even though previous emigrations took place, as it is the first wave to have come in the wake of the communist revolution and it carried on a heavily political character.

A smaller group of Russians (often referred to by Russians as the Second wave of Russian emigration had also left during World War II, they were refugees, eastern workers, or surviving veterans of the Russian Liberation Army and other anti-communist armed units who had served under the German command and evaded forced repatriation. In the immediate post-World War II period, the largest Russian communities in the emigration were to be found in Germany, Canada, the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia.

In the 1970's a number of Russian-speaking Soviet citizens (predominantly Jews) emigrated to Israel and the U.S. due to political and economic reasons, and also to escape antisemitism. Some Soviet dissidents were forced to emigrate by KGB which threatened them with arrest. This group is often called The Third wave of Russian emigration.

Immediately before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, significant emigration of citizens of the Russian Federation to various parts of the world has taken place, mostly for economic reasons. Israel and Germany have received the largest shares of Russian speaking immigrants (Israel - predominantly Jews, Germany - predominantly ethnic Germans and Jews) in the nineties, because of incentives institutionalized by the governments of both countries.

It should be also noted that before and during the Soviet period ethnic Russians migrated from Russia proper throughout the area of the former Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, sometimes encouraged to re-settle in borderlands by Tsarist and later Soviet government. That is why after the Baltic states regained independence and after the dissolution of the USSR many ethnic Russians found themselves in the independent states other than Russia. As noted above, they represent the largest number of ethnic Russians living outside Russia.

By country

Country Russian population
 Ukraine 8,334,000[1]
 Kazakhstan 4,480,000 [2]
 United States 2,652,214 [3][4]
 Belarus 1,142,000 [5]
 Latvia 646,567 [6]
 Uzbekistan 620,000 [7]
 Kyrgyzstan 604,000 [8][9]
 Canada 500,600[10]
 Estonia 344,280[11]
 Turkmenistan 314,000[12]
 Lithuania 220,000[13]
 Moldova 202,000[14]
 Brazil 200,000[15]
 Germany 178,600[16]
 Azerbaijan 144,000[17][18]
 Italy 132,120[19]
 France 115,000[citation needed]
 Iran 80,000[citation needed]
 Chile 70,000[20]
 Tajikistan 68,200[21]
 Georgia 67,671[22][23]
 Australia 67,550[24]
 United Arab Emirates 56,600 [25]
 Paraguay 55,000[26]
 Cuba 50,200[25]
 Belgium 50,000[27]
 Argentina 50,000[citation needed]
 India 50,000[citation needed]
 United Kingdom 50,000[28]
 Spain 42,585[29]
 Lebanon 40,000 [30]
 Finland 33,401[31]
 Romania 30,000[32]
 China 15,600[33]
 Bulgaria 15,595[34]
 Armenia 14,660[35]
 Norway 13,914 [36]
 Greece 13,635 [37]
 Poland 10,244[38]
 Afghanistan 1,500[39]
 Cyprus 10,000[40]
 Sweden 8,900[41]
 Japan 6,000[42]
 Austria 5,466[43]
 Portugal 5,114 (2007 cenus)[44]
 Czech Republic 5,062[45]
 Syria 4,811[46]
 Venezuela 4,600[47]
 Mongolia 4,100[48]
 Turkey 3,514 (2002)[49]
 Jordan 3,033[35]
 New Zealand 4,581 [50]
 Serbia 2,588 [51]
 South Africa 1,300 [52]
 Mexico 1,293 [53]
 Luxembourg 943[54]
 Ethiopia 319[55]
 Puerto Rico 269[56]
 Egypt 200[54]

Former USSR

Ethnic Russians in former Soviet Union states in 1994

Today largest ethnic Russian diasporas outside of Russia live in former Soviet states such as Ukraine (about 8 million), Kazakhstan (about 4.5 million),[57] Belarus (about 1.2 million), Latvia (about 700,000), Uzbekistan (about 650, 000)[58] and Kyrgyzstan (about 600,000).[59]

Their situation varied widely, from no perceivable change in status, as in Belarus, to becoming foreigners or non-citizens as in Estonia and Latvia[60] if they did not request Russian Federation citizenship during the period it was available.

East Asia

Russians (eluosizu) are one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. There are approximately 15,600, living mostly in northern Xinjiang, and also in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang. In the 1920s Harbin was flooded with 100,000 to 200,000 Russian White émigrés fleeing from Russia. Some Harbin Russians moved to other cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin. By the 1930s, Shanghai's Russian community had grown to more than 25,000.[61]

There are also smaller numbers of Russians in Japan and Russians in Korea. The Japanese government dispute Russia's claim to the Kuril Islands, which were annexed by the USSR in 1945 after Japan's surrender in World War II. The Red Army expelled all Japanese from the island chain, which was resettled by Russians and other Soviet nationalities.[citation needed] A few Russians also settled in the Korean peninsula in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[62] The population of Russians in Singapore was estimated at no more than a thousand by the local Russian embassy in 2008; they are a largely professional and business-oriented expatriate community, and count among their numbers more than a hundred company owners or local heads of branches of large Russian multinationals.[63]


Russian settlement settlement in Mexico was minimal but well documented in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A breakaway sect of Old Believers of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Molokans arrived in Baja California the state facing California, USA in the 1880s-1920s to escape persecution from Tsarist Russia. The Molokans received a land grant in the Guadalupe Valley south of Ensenada to establish a few villages and held onto a Russian culture for a few decades before they were abandoned and cemeteries bearing Cyrillic letters remain.[citation needed] Dissenters of the official Soviet Communist party like the Trotskyites along with leader Leon Trotsky found refuge in Mexico in the 1920s, where he was assassinated by Soviet agents in 1940.[citation needed]


There are also small Russian communities in the Balkans, Eastern and Central European nations such as Germany, and in China. These communities may identify themselves either as Russians or citizens of these countries, or both, to varying degrees.


  1. ^ (2001 census)
  2. ^ (1999 census)
  3. ^ The numbers collected by the National Census are based on the country of origin and include among ethnic Russians significant amount of Jews, Ukrainians, Tatars and other people who stated Russia as the country of their ancestry
  4. ^ (2000)
  5. ^ (1999)
  6. ^ (2007)
  7. ^ (2005)
  8. ^ (1999)
  9. ^ 13.5% of the population -
  10. ^ (2006)
  11. ^ (2007)
  12. ^ Turkmen pledge on Russian rights, BBC News
  13. ^ (2001)
  14. ^ (2004)
  15. ^ (2005)
  16. ^ (2003)
  17. ^ CIA - The World Factbook
  18. ^ Southern Caucasus: Facing Integration Problems, Ethnic Russians Long For Better Life
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ Embajada de la Federación de Rusia en la República de Chile. Los primeros rusos en Chile.
  21. ^ (2000)
  22. ^ (2002 census)
  23. ^ Georgia: Ethnic Russians Feel Insulated From Tensions, Radio Free Europe
  24. ^ Category No. 2068.0 - 2006 Census Tables
  25. ^ a b Créditos
  26. ^ 2005
  27. ^ [2]
  28. ^ Russians in the United Kingdom
  29. ^ [3]
  30. ^ (1956 census, US govt. estimate)
  31. ^ (2002 census)
  32. ^ Informatii utile | Agentia Nationala pentru Intreprinderi Mici si Mijlocii
  33. ^ (2000 census)
  34. ^ (2002 census)
  35. ^ a b (2002 census)
  36. ^ Statistics Norway
  37. ^ Demographics of Greece
  38. ^ Demographics of Poland#Russians
  39. ^ Naumov, Alexander (2009-07-05), "The Russian Diaspora in Afghanistan", Russian Diaspora Communities, Russkiy Mir Foundation,, retrieved 2009-07-29 
  40. ^ Russians in Cyprus
  41. ^ Joshua project - Ethnic groups of Sweden
  42. ^ Russians in Japan
  43. ^ Austria#Demographics
  44. ^ Immigration to Portugal
  45. ^ (2002 census)
  46. ^ (2009 census) []
  47. ^ Joshua Project - Ethnic People Groups of Venezuela
  48. ^ [4]
  49. ^ Date census 2002
  50. ^ (2006 census)
  51. ^ (2002 census)
  52. ^ Orthodox Church of the South Africa
  53. ^ (2000 census)
  54. ^ a b [5]
  55. ^ [6]
  56. ^ [7]
  57. ^ Robert Greenall, Russians left behind in Central Asia, BBC News, 23 November 2005.
  58. ^ Uzbekistan: People: Ethnic Groups. World Factbook of CIA
  59. ^ KYRGYZSTAN: Economic disparities driving inter-ethnic conflict
  60. ^ "Russians beyond the Limits of Russia", O.I. Vendina, Geography newspaper, no. 11, 2001 (Russian)
  61. ^ Tales of Old Shanghai - cultures - Russians
  62. ^ Clark, Donald N. (1994), "Vanished Exiles: The Prewar Russian Community in Korea", in Dae-Sook Suh, Korean Studies: New Pacific Currents, University of Hawaii Press, pp. 41–58, ISBN 0-8248-1598-X 
  63. ^ Drankina, Yekaterina (2008-03-10), "Сингапурский десант", Kommersant Den'gi 9 (664),, retrieved 2009-07-30 

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