Ein Bericht aus Kaliningrad, 2017
Generally, the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s in Central Asia was marked by the following processes:
- civil wars/interethnic conflicts in some countries, like Tajikistan (1992 – 1997), for example,
- growth of nation states and nation identity building processes that some times resulted in domination of previously supressed national groups (result is the domination of the so-called title nations, shrinking economic and social conditions for Russians and other minorities),
- collapse of previously centralized economies, economic crises and poor living conditions for big part of local population.
So, in the early 1990s quite a lot of Russians who turned into “unwanted persons” fled new Central Asian republics. But it was not only them, not only Russians, also Russians speeking Tajic or Uzbek people, who tried to escape from the war. Russian Germans and Germans from Kazachstan also started migration to the Kaliningrad Oblast at that time, because Germany launched special programs to accept them back in Germany. My general feeling is that in that period there were a lot of quite well educated people, engineers, doctors etc., among migrants.
In 2000s it has become to a great extent labor driven migration to Kaliningrad. In Russia, in general, and Kaliningrad in particular, there was a construction boom and hence a great demand for cheap labor force. Within this wave a lot of people from poor rural areas came. Many of them did not have education and could not speak Russian.
Not all of the immigrants are Russians, not all of them have Russian passports. Most of them do not. Frankly speaking it is a bit difficult to say how they feel and what their identities are. Perhaps some of them have strong ethnic identities, especially from rural areas – they speak their native languages and don’t learn Russian, bring their culinary traditions with them, download and listen music from their countries.