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Article

Population change in the regional centres and internal periphery of the regions in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus over the period of 1990-2000s

The paper looks into the dynamics of the population size of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus after the census of 1989. Regions and cities of these countries were the focus of the research (territorial units level NUTS-3). The analysis addresses the question to what degree the remoteness from the regional centre, i.e. the position in the core-periphery system, influences the dynamics of the population size of the territorial units of the given level. For the analytical purposes the distinction has been made between the regional centres including adjacent suburban areas and internal regional periphery comprising districts and cities. The main indicator employed was the distance between the periphery areas and regional centres. The results of the analysis show that in spite of the depopulation of all three countries and severe transformational crisis, there was a steady growth of the population size in the regional centres, while the periphery areas of the regions continued to lose the population. The mentioned differences are primarily determined by migration flows, since the fertility rates are below the replacement level in all the countries’ territories. Population tends to concentrate in the regional centres, which means urbanisation has not been completed yet. While similar patterns of population decline are observed in the periphery areas of Ukraine and Belarus, in Russia the depopulation rates are negatively influenced by the factor of remoteness of a periphery area from the regional centre. All three countries experienced rural population decline everywhere but suburban areas of the regional centres.