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‘Meduza’ fact check: Is Ukraine still the top source of migration into Russia, or has Tajikistan overtaken it?

Meduza
Refugees from Ukraine wait at the Russian border in 2014.
Refugees from Ukraine wait at the Russian border in 2014.
Sergey Pivovarov / Sputnik / Scanpix / LETA

The claim

These quotations all appeared in Russian media reports on a set of preliminary data released by the Russian Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat). The dataset described various aspects of Russia’s demographics in 2018. News reports pointed to the fact that the highest net influx of new residents — that is, the difference between the number of people from a given country entering and leaving Russia — now belongs to Tajikistan rather than Ukraine for the first time in several years. Olga Chudinovskikh, who leads a population economics laboratory at Moscow State University, told RBC that the recent decrease in the flow of migrants to Russia from Ukraine has stemmed from “the exhaustion of the flow of refugees” from the country’s southeast as well as a new preference among Ukrainians to migrate to Europe.

Does that mean more people move to Russia from Tajikistan than from Ukraine?

No. Ukraine remains the leading source of people who move to Russia, but that number has nonetheless decreased (137,700 in 2018 as opposed to 150,100 in 2017). At the same time, the number of Ukrainian citizens leaving Russia has increased from 102,400 to 122,900. In sum, the net influx of migrants from Ukraine to Russia in 2018 was 14,800, far less than the previous year’s figure of 47,600.

Meanwhile, 67,900 people moved from Tajikistan to Russia in 2018, and the net migration influx from that country was 31,000. 72,000 migrated to Russia from Kazakhstan for a net influx of 26,500. Therefore, even though the net influx of migrants from those countries was relatively large, fewer people moved into Russia from either of them than from Ukraine.

All in all, Rosstat reported, every member of the Commonwealth of Independent States saw its net influx of migrants to Russia decrease with the exceptions of Turkmenistan, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The overall decrease in Russia’s net migration influx has caused the country’s population to decrease overall for the first time in 10 years.

Viktor Davydov

Translation by Hilah Kohen