Sunday, November 19, 2017

Migrant Worker Children More Successful than Native Russians, New Study Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 19 – Gastarbeiters in Russian cities from the former Soviet republics typically work at lower-paying and lower-status jobs than the Russians around them, but their children on reaching maturity often have more education and have higher incomes that do members of the indigenous population, according to a new study.

            The study, which focused only on Armenians and Azerbaijanis, was conducted by a group of scholars at the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service. They warn against overgeneralizing the results of this small pilot research project on a subject about which little academic work has been carried out (

                But Yevgeny Varshaver, who led the research group, says the findings are suggestive of a trend that may become widespread if large numbers of children of gastarbeiters choose to remain in Russia long enough to grow up, get an education and go to work on their own. 

            He notes that his group found that this second generation of migrants, aged 18 to 30,  had average reported incomes of 36,400 rubles (600 US dollars) a month, as compared to average reported incomes among native Russians of 25,600 rubles (430 US dollars) a month, a significant difference.

            The researchers found that some of the Armenians and Azerbaijanis in smaller Russian cities went to work in the same kind of businesses their parents had started, while those in Moscow and other larger cities, especially women, typically went into professions requiring more education which they had managed to achieve.

            According to Varshaver, “migrants of the second generation are more educated than the average for Russians,” with a higher percentage of them completing higher education while Russians as a whole tended to stop before doing so.  Thus, the migrants experienced greater upward social mobility than Russians.

            With regard to their attachment to their ethnic communities, he continues, the evidence points in two ways. In smaller cities where ethnic regions have formed, the second generation tends to stay within the community, while in Moscow, where no such regions have emerged in the same way, the reverse is the case.

            Varshaver says that “there is no integration policy in Russia,” largely because those charged with dealing with the issue are the police. The latter’s use of force may keep the first generation in line, he continues, but this will have a much smaller impact on the second generation.

            And that is going to matter ever more in the future, he suggests, because the first generation of migrants had a common Soviet background while the second generation may be less affected by that and more by ethnicity. And any new immigrants will be increasingly different because they do not share such common experiences.

            In his comments to Kommersant, Varshaver does not discuss how Russians are likely to view the outcome he describes with children of migrants doing better than children of indigenous Russians. But if this report is given widespread attention, it is certain to spark resentment and possibly lead to even more demands that migrants and their children be sent home. 

Aleksandr III and a Three-Headed Dragon: Russian Statues Send Mixed and Conflicting Messages

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 19 – In Russia today, monuments more than memoranda have become the most favored way of expressing political views at least in part because, however controversial many of them inevitably become, statues allow for multiple interpretations or alternatively for none at all. 

            This weekend brought two examples. In the first, Vladimir Putin dedicated a statue in Russian-occupied Crimea to Emperor Aleksandr III, the embodiment for many of imperial cruelty but for others the rare tsar who did not embroil the country in a foreign war (

            And in the second, officials in Kostroma erected a statue of a three-headed dragon, something they said symbolized the three branches of a free and democratic government (legislative, executive, and judicial) but that passers-by may view as simply an ornamental design (

            On the URA news site, two of its journalists, Mikhail Bely and Stanislav Zakharkin discuss “why in Russia so many monuments are being erected” and point to the numerous cases like Aleksandr III where those putting up the monument may want to convey one message but those looking at it will take away a very different one (

            Aleksey Kurtov, president of the Russian Association of Political Consultants, tells them that there is another subliminal message being delivered by the kind of monuments going up in Russia now. The majority of those erected recently are devoted to a particular individual rather than to any idea. 

            That reflects the interests of the state which views heroes as the best model for emulation; and thus, even though few talk about it, these statues to figures like Aleksandr III work one way ideologically while those to ideas of democracy and division of powers work in an entirely different way – and one that the current Russian regime has little interest in cultivating. 

Europeans More Inclined to Identify Russians as European than Russians Are, New Poll Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 19 – A new survey by Germany’s Körber-Stiftung finds that while only 41 percent of Germans and 38 percent of polls do not consider Russia part of Europe, a slightly higher percentage of Russians – 44 percent – say that they do not consider their country part of Europe.

            Moreover, the survey found that Germans and Poles are far more ready to say that a rapprochement of the West and Russia is important or very important – 95 percent and 80 percent respectively – than are Russians. Only 66 percent of Russians made similar declarations ( andопрос-принадлежит-ли-россия-к-европе/a-41323799).

                The Körber Foundation poll also identified some important value differences among the populations of these three countries. According to the survey, 86 percent of Germans, 83 percent of Russians, but only 56 percent of Poles said that showing hostility to foreigners was something now wrong.

            The three also diverged about the role of the mass media and its relationship to the state. The poll found that 76 percent of the Russians said that the task of the media is to support the government and report its decisions to the population. Only 53 percent of the Poles, and 43 percent of the Germans shared that view.