Staunton, February 16 – Duma deputies are proposing and the Russian Ministry for Far Eastern Development has come out in support of a plan to resettle as many as 50,000 Ukrainian refugees who had fled their country because of the fighting but have not yet found permanent residences in the Russian Federation.
This plan reflects the convergence of two things. On the one hand, Moscow told Ukrainian refugees that they had to leave their temporary residences by December 31, 2015, even though there were no arrangements for the more than 600,000 people still in them who have asked to remain in Russia (gazeta.ru/social/news/2016/02/16/n_8255633.shtml and izvestia.ru/news/604071).
And on the other, the Russian Ministry for Far Eastern Development views the Ukrainians as among the most likely to take some of the “more than 50,000 jobs” it says it will create in the Far Eastern Federal District, jobs that it has so far not created or found many other than Central Asians willing to come and take.
The ministry says that it would like to see Ukrainian refugees settle in the Buryat Republic, the Transbaikal, Kamchakta, Primorsky, and Khabarovsky krays, and the Amur, Irkutsk, Magadan, and Sakhalin oblasts, and the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (Birobidzhan), although few Ukrainian refugees in the Russian Federation have gone to these regions.
Not surprisingly, many Russian nationalists and Siberian activists are anything but pleased by the idea, seeing it as a survival of the communist past – they note that the Duma deputy who came up with the idea is a member of the KPRF -- and Moscow’s tendency to address all problems with gigantist projects (beregrus.ru/?p=5924
For background and references to sources on the once large and vibrant Ukrainian community in the Russian Far East and on Moscow’s recent nervousness about its revival, see “‘Zelenyi Klin’ isn’t Only Ukrainian ‘Wedge’ in Russia, and Some in Moscow are Nervous,” June 12, 2014 at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2014/06/window-on-eurasia-zelenyi-klin-isnt.html; “A Second Ukraine Being Reborn in Russian Far East,” June 6, 2014 at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2014/06/window-on-eurasia-second-ukraine-being.html; “Moscow Views Ethnic Ukrainian NGOs in Russia as Continuing Threat,” July 15, 2013 at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/07/window-on-eurasia-moscow-views-ethnic.html; and “Russians Repress Ukrainians in Far East and Threaten to Deport Crimean Tatars There,” March 26, 2015 at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/03/russians-repress-ukrainians-in-far-east.html.