After the collapse of the USSR, the contours of the new state borders crossed the areas of settlement of ethnic groups, making the issue of the nature of the frontier actual. In the Russian-Kazakh sector, this was clearly manifested in the discrepancy between the areas of settlement of the Russian-speaking population and the very line of the state border. The challenges generated by the Kazakhization policy and the difficulties of post-socialist transit stimulated the outflow of the population from the northern regions of Kazakhstan to Russia. The purpose of the article is to reconstruct the migration of the Russian-speaking population in the Russian-Kazakh border area using the example of the South Urals. The source database was made up of archival documents, information from the regional statistics committee on migration, and materials from interviews with Russian-speaking migrants from Kazakhstan. The basis of Central Asian migration to the region was the Russian-speaking population of the border regions of Kazakhstan (Russians, Tatars, Ukrainians, Germans). Two waves of migration stand out clearly: “forced” in the 1990s., and more “pragmatic” in 2000-2019 allowed to significantly compensate for the demographic losses, contributed to the influx of a young and economically active population into the region. The main areas of their exodus were Kostanay and Rudny (Kostanay region). The developed practices of cross-border cooperation and the presence of previously established communities allowed the newcomers to maintain strong ties with their “homeland”, to facilitate the recruitment of new migrants. In the course of the study, the author identified the quantitative and qualitative parameters of migration from Kazakhstan, and determined the role of the frontier in the migration processes to the South Urals.
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