Russia: A ‘Hidden’ Migration Transition and a Winding Road towards a Mature Immigration Country?
The article offers a new perspective on contemporary and past migration processes in the post-Soviet area by testing the usefulness of the concept of a migration cycle for the Russian case. By adopting the longue durée approach, we attempt to assess the advancement of Russia’s migration cycle, arguing at the same time that it constitutes an interesting, yet not an obvious case with which to test the utility of the concept. We postulate that, in tracking Russia’s migration trajectories in pre-1991 times, it is important to account for both the flows between Russia as the-then state entity (i.e. the Tsarist Empire, later the Soviet Union) and foreign countries and the flows between Russia as the core of the empire and its eastern and southern peripheries. Our analyses show that while – taking into account statistical considerations – Russia has undoubtedly already undergone the migration transition, it has not yet reached the stage of a mature immigration country. We also contend that migration transition for Russia occurred internally – within the-then state borders – and revealed itself with its transformation from a Soviet republic into a federative state.