The ISCIP Analyst
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The Soviet Ethnic Mosaic
Current events have highlighted the discrepancy between the administrative frontiers within the (former) USSR and the ethnic borders delimiting the various nationalities. It was assumed that mere extension of the powers granted to the union and autonomous republics would satisfy national aspirations. However, analysis of census returns demonstrates the size of ethnic minorities living outside their titular "homelands" (i.e., the union republics, ASSRs, autonomous regions and districts) or having no such "homeland."
Moreover, in many cases, nationalities do not enjoy a majority or even a plurality within those titular "homelands," largely because of gerrymandering or deliberate colonization. The tables below illustrate the more important effects of such practices. The statistics reflect the Soviet censuses of 1970 and 1989. In Table 2, the category of Russians living in the RSFSR, but outside their "homeland," refers to those ASSRs and autonomous areas within the Russian Republic in which the titular (non-Russian) nationality outnumbers Russian residents.
The contrast between the natural increase of the Turkic/Moslem nationalities and the rest of the population speaks for itself. All of these aspects are discussed at greater length in my chapter on "The End of the Soviet Multinational Empire?" in the forthcoming book State and Nation in Multi-Ethnic Societies: The Breakup of Multinational States (eds., U. Ra'anan, M. Mesner, K. Armes, and K. Martin, Manchester University Press, 1991).
Copyright ISCIP 1991