Russia News – Window on Eurasia — New Series: Ukrainians in Donbass Dominated Record Number of Foreigners Taking Russian Citizenship in 2020

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 2 – More than 60 percent of the record 656,300 foreigners who took Russian citizenship last year were Ukrainians and most of these were in or from the Donbass, according to a new investigation by the Finexpertiza group (

            These dramatic increases both overall and for Ukrainians in particular – almost a third from a year before — reflect the simplified and accelerated citizenship procedures that Moscow has put in place for those who know Russian, come from former Soviet republics, or have studied in Russia.

            With the exception of 2017 when there was a slight decline, the number of foreigners taking Russian citizenship grew from 95,700 in 2012 to 269,400 in 2018 before jumping to 497,800 in 2019 and 656,300 as a result of these simplified procedures, Elena Trubnikova, a researcher with Finexpertiza, reports.

            Over the last two years, she continues, Ukrainians have become the dominant group of “new Russians,” leaving Central Asians, South Caucasians, and Moldovans far behind and those from beyond the former Soviet space even further. In most cases, only a relative handful of people from beyond what were Soviet borders (1.2 percent) have taken Russian citizenship.

            During 2020, 63,700 people from Tajikistan took Russian citizenship; 43,400 from Kazakhstan, 30,500 from Armenia, 23,100 from Uzbekistan, 21,900 from Azerbaijan, 20,600 from Moldova, 11,900 from Kyrgyzstan, and 10,400 from Belarus, the Finexpertiza investigation reports.

            Another piece of evidence for the Ukrainian dominance of the new wave of those taking Russian citizenship is that 48.1 percent of all applicants filled out the necessary paperwork in Rostov Oblast which adjoins the Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions. That far exceeds the share who applied in Moscow, with 5.8 percent, and all other places which registered even fewer.

            Finexpertiza notes that “it is interesting that many of those [who have taken Russian citizenship in recent years] do not intend to move to the territory of Russia.” Instead, they will either remain a new stratum in their current countries of residence or move back and forth between those countries and Russia.

            Those acquiring Russian citizenship in Ukraine are more likely to follow the first course; those taking it in Central Asia and the Caucasus the second, the study finds.

Window on Eurasia — New Series

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