Significant Russian minorities persist in all the ex-Soviet countries, ranging from just 2 per cent of Armenia’s population to over a third of the Latvian population. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these expatriates were allowed a window to transfer from Soviet to Russian citizenship. For those who chose not to do, treatment differed: in the Baltic states, they became permanent ‘non-citizens’, in Belarus, their status was unchanged. Russia’s perceived interference in the Ukrainian and Georgian separatist movements (in particular, its annexation of Crimea in 2014 on the pretext of a staged referendum of its Russian majority population) has lent a new, and minatory, aspect to the existence of these minorities. Latvia, for instance, has a Russian majority in its easternmost province, where a limited movement to re-join Russia has been vocalized. In central Asia, Russian influence tends to be less feared and full participation in ex-Soviet umbrella institutions is the norm.
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