An important but widely overlooked demographic transformation has been under way in the Ukrainian region of Crimea since it was annexed by Russia in 2014.
Ukrainian officials and analysts say hundreds of thousands of people from across Russia have been brought into the disputed region in an effort by Moscow to transform the composition of its population.
“Since 2014 there has been a mass movement of people from Siberia,” Sergei, who moved to Crimea from St. Petersburg and who blogs under the name Yan Laros, told RFE/RL in March. “At first they went to Krasnodar, but now they have actively begun settling Crimea. Sometimes you get the impression that half of Siberia has suddenly decided to move here.”
According to official Russian statistics, some 247,000 Russians have moved to Crimea since annexation. At the same time, about 140,000 people have left, mostly Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars who moved to the Ukrainian mainland.
Ukrainian officials, however, say the real numbers are much greater — by hundreds of thousands. The population of the peninsula according to the Ukrainian census of 2001 was 2.4 million, of which about 60 percent were ethnic Russians, 24 percent were Ukrainians, and 10 percent were Crimean Tatars. A Russian census in 2014 put the population at 2.285 million, with 65 percent identifying as Russian, 15 percent as Ukrainian, and 12 percent as Crimean Tatar. [Continue reading…]