Migration in the Russian-Kazakhstan Border Region (on the Example of the South Urals)
pdf (Русский)

Abstract views: 57
PDF Downloads: 31


Russian-Kazakh Border Area
Northern Kazakhstan
Southern Urals

How to Cite

1. Avdashkin A. Migration in the Russian-Kazakhstan Border Region (on the Example of the South Urals) // Journal of Frontier Studies. 2022. № 3 (7). C. 118-139.


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.

pdf (Русский)


Abashin, S. N. (2012). Central Asian Migration: Practices, Local Communities, Transnationalism. Ethnographic Review, 4. (In Russian).

Alekseenko, A. N., Aubakirova, Zh. S., & Zhanbosinova, A. S. (2019). Ethno-demographic evolution and the formation of a sovereign demographic system in Kazakhstan. Bulletin of St. Petersburg University. History, 64(4), 1368–1385. https://doi.org/10.21638/11701/spbu02.2019.413 (In Russian).

Anacker, S. (2004). Geographies of Power in Nazarbayev’s Astana. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 45(7), 515–533. https://doi.org/10.2747/1538-7216.45.7.515

Beacháin, O. D., & Kevlihan, R. (2013). Threading a needle: Kazakhstan between civic and ethno-nationalist state-building: Kazakhstan between civic and ethno-nationalist state-building. Nations and Nationalism, 19(2), 337–356. https://doi.org/10.1111/nana.12022

Bissenova, A. (2017). The Fortress and the Frontier: Mobility, Culture, and Class in Almaty and Astana. Europe-Asia Studies, 69(4), 642–667. https://doi.org/10.1080/09668136.2017.1325445

Blackburn, M. (2019). Discourses of Russian-speaking youth in Nazarbayev’s Kazakhstan: Soviet legacies and responses to nation-building. Central Asian Survey, 38(2), 217–236. https://doi.org/10.1080/02634937.2019.1615409

Brubaker, R. (2005). The ‘diaspora’ diaspora. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 28(1), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/0141987042000289997

Chelyabinsk State Archives of the Russian Federation (OGACHO). (n. d.). (In Russian).

Cheskin, A., & Kachuyevski, A. (2019). The Russian-Speaking Populations in the Post-Soviet Space: Language, Politics and Identity. Europe-Asia Studies, 71(1), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1080/09668136.2018.1529467

Chudinovskikh, O. (2008). In 1992-2006, more than 6 million people acquired Russian citizenship. Demoscope Weekly. http://www.demoscope.ru/weekly/2008/0335/tema03.php (In Russian).

Diener, A. C. (2015). Assessing potential Russian irredentism and separatism in Kazakhstan’s northern oblasts. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 56(5), 469–492. https://doi.org/10.1080/15387216.2015.1103660

Diener, A. C. (2022). Multi-Scalar Territorialization in Kazakhstan’s Northern Borderland. Geographical Review, 112(1), 125–146. https://doi.org/10.1080/00167428.2020.1814676

Esimova, A. B., & Valitova, Z. Kh. (2018). Representations of the student youth of Kazakhstan about the regions of the country (experience of using mental maps). Sociological Research, 4, 36–42. https://doi.org/10.7868/S0132162518040049 (In Russian).

External Youth Migration in Central Asia: Analyzing Risks and Minimizing Negative Effects. (2019). International Organization for Migration. (In Russian).

Faist, T. (2010). Diaspora and transnationalism: What kind of dance partners? In R. Bauböck & T. Faist (Eds.), Diaspora and Transnationalism: Concepts, Theories and Methods. Amsterdam University Press. https://doi.org/10.5117/9789089642387

Faranda, R., & Nolle, D. B. (2011). Boundaries of ethnic identity in Central Asia: Titular and Russian perceptions of ethnic commonalities in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 34(4), 620–642. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2010.516004

Flynn, M. (2007). Renegotiating Stability, Security and Identity in the Post-Soviet Borderlands: The Experience of Russian Communities in Uzbekistan. Nationalities Papers, 35(2), 267–288. https://doi.org/10.1080/00905990701254359

Harris, C. D. (1993). The New Russian Minorities: A Statistical Overview. Post-Soviet Geography, 34(1), 1–27. https://doi.org/10.1080/10605851.1993.10640919

Immigration to Russia: Good or Harm? (2019, декабрь 19). VCIOM. News. https://wciom.ru/analytical-reviews/analiticheskii-obzor/immigracziya-v-rossiyu-blago-ili-vred (In Russian).

Jašina-Schäfer, A. (2019). Where Do I Belong? Narratives of Rodina among Russian-speaking Youth in Kazakhstan. Europe-Asia Studies, 71(1), 97–116. https://doi.org/10.1080/09668136.2018.1508645

Kaiser, M., & Beimenbetov, S. (2020). The Role of Repatriate Organisations in the Integration of Kazakhstan’s Oralmandar. Europe-Asia Studies, 72(8), 1403–1425. https://doi.org/10.1080/09668136.2020.1779183

Kaiser, R., & Chinn, J. (1995). Russian-Kazakh Relations in Kazakhstan. Post-Soviet Geography, 36(5), 257–273. https://doi.org/10.1080/10605851.1995.10640992

Kapustina, E., & Borisova, E. (2021). Review of the theoretical discussion about the concept of transnationalism. In S. N. Abashina & O. E. Brednikova (Ed.), Living in Two Worlds: Rethinking Transnationalism and Translocality (pp. 14‑29). New Literary Review. (In Russian).

Kaziev, S. Sh., Mogunova, M. V., & Mogunov, S. V. (2020). Interethnic marriages among urban Russians and Kazakhs of northern Kazakhstan. Hearld of Anthropology, 51(3), 136–152. https://doi.org/10.33876/2311-0546/2020-51-3/136-152 (In Russian).

Kesici, O. (2011). The Dilemma in the Nation-Building Process: The Kazakh or Kazakhstani Nation. Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe, 10(1), 31–58.

Kolstø, P. (1996). The new Russian diaspora ‐ an identity of its own? Possible identity trajectories for Russians in the former Soviet republic. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 19(3), 609–639. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.1996.9993927

Laruelle, M. (2015). Russia as a “Divided Nation,” from Compatriots to Crimea: A Contribution to the Discussion on Nationalism and Foreign Policy. Problems of Post-Communism, 62(2), 88–97. https://doi.org/10.1080/10758216.2015.1010902

Laruelle, M. (2018). Why No Kazakh Novorossiya? Kazakhstan’s Russian Minority in a Post-Crimea World. Problems of Post-Communism, 65(1), 65–78. https://doi.org/10.1080/10758216.2016.1220257

Laruelle, M., Royce, D., & Beyssembayev, S. (2019). Untangling the puzzle of “Russia’s influence” in Kazakhstan. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 60(2), 211–243. https://doi.org/10.1080/15387216.2019.1645033

Masanov, N. E. (1995). Nation-building in Kazakhstan: analysis and forecast. Bulletin of Eurasia, 1, 117–128. (In Russian).

Mkrtchyan, N. (2002). Ethnic structure of migration flows from Central Asia to the Russian border area. Demoscope Weekly. http://www.demoscope.ru/weekly/2002/087/analit03.php#3 (In Russian).

Nysanbaev, A. N., Burova, E. E., & Sailaubekkyzy, A. (2019). Features of the identity of Kazakhstanis in a multicultural society. Sociological Research, 7, 37–47. https://doi.org/10.31857/S013216250005791-3 (In Russian).

Panarin, S. A. (1999). Russian-speaking people at the external borders of Russia: challenges and answers (on the example of Kazakhstan). Diaspora, 2–3, 137–169. (In Russian).

Peyrouse, S. (2007). Nationhood and the minority question in Central Asia. The Russians in Kazakhstan. Europe-Asia Studies, 59(3), 481–501. https://doi.org/10.1080/09668130701239930

Podolskaya, E. (2021). Chelyabinsk entered the top 10 cities attractive for migrants with a profession. South Ural Panormama. http://www.up74.ru/articles/news/128485/ (In Russian).

Rees, K. M., & Williams, N. W. (2017). Explaining Kazakhstani identity: Supraethnic identity, ethnicity, language, and citizenship. Nationalities Papers, 45(5), 815–839. https://doi.org/10.1080/00905992.2017.1288204

Rees, K. M., Webb Williams, N., & Diener, A. C. (2021). Territorial Belonging and Homeland Disjuncture: Uneven Territorialisations in Kazakhstan. Europe-Asia Studies, 73(4), 713–739. https://doi.org/10.1080/09668136.2021.1891206

Sadovskaya, E. Yu. (2009). Kazakhstan in the Central Asian Migration Subsystem. In J. A. Zayonchkovskaya & G. S. Vitkovskaya (Eds.), Post-Soviet transformations: reflected in migrations (pp. 279–321). IT “Adamant”. (In Russian).

Sarsembayev, A. (1999). Imagined communities: Kazak nationalism and Kazakification in the 1990s. Central Asian Survey, 18(3), 319–346. https://doi.org/10.1080/02634939995605

Savin, I. S. (2010). Russians in modern Kazakhstan. Sociological Studies, 8, 81–88. (In Russian).

Siegelbaum, L. H., & Moch, L. P. (2016). Transnationalism in One Country? Seeing and Not Seeing Cross-Border Migration within the Soviet Union. Slavic Review, 75(4), 970–986. https://doi.org/10.5612/slavicreview.75.4.0970

Spehr, S., & Kassenova, N. (2012). Kazakhstan: Constructing identity in a post-Soviet society. Asian Ethnicity, 13(2), 135–151. https://doi.org/10.1080/14631369.2012.638802

State Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF). (n. d.). (In Russian).

Sushiy, S. Ya. (2018). Russians of Kazakhstan – geodemographic dynamics of the post-Soviet period and the prospects for the first half of the 21st century. Sociological Research, 8, 22–37. https://doi.org/10.31857/S013216250000759-7 (In Russian).

Sushiy, S. Ya. (2021). Russians of the Near Abroad in the Post-Soviet Period: Geodemographic, Ethnosocial, Sociocultural Aspects. Populations, 24(1), 103–116. https://doi.org/10.19181/population.2021.24.1.10 (In Russian).

Suvorova, N. N., Zhuravlev, A. V., & Ivanova, T. M. (1997). Analysis of migration processes in the Chelyabinsk region. Chelyabinsk. (In Russian).

Tertree, D. (2017). Russian question in the post-Soviet period. Bulletin of St. Petersburg University. History, 62(1), 43–56. https://doi.org/10.21638/11701/spbu02.2017.104 (In Russian).

Vendina, O. (2019). Living in the Borderland: Interpretation of Border Security Problems by Residents of Russia's Border Cities. Laboratorium: Journal of Social Research, 11(2). https://doi.org/10.25285/2078-1938-2019-11-2-30-69 (In Russian).

Wolfel, R. L. (2002). North to Astana: Nationalistic motives for the movement of the Kazakh(stani) capital. Nationalities Papers, 30(3), 485–506. https://doi.org/10.1080/0090599022000011723

Zeveleva, O. (2014). Political aspects of repatriation: Germany, Russia, Kazakhstan. A comparative analysis. Nationalities Papers, 42(5), 808–827. https://doi.org/10.1080/00905992.2014.916663

Zotova, M. V., Gritsenko, A. A., & Sebentsov, A. B. (2018). Everyday life in the Russian borderlands: motives and factors of cross-border practices. Universe of Russia, 27(4), 56–77. https://doi.org/10.17323/1811-038X-2018-27-4-56-77 (In Russian).

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.