Sunday, September 2, 2007

Window on Eurasia: Russia’s Future Endangered by Intermarriage with People from the Caucasus, Orthodox Activist Says

Paul Goble

Vienna, August 31 – Andrei Kurayev, an outspoken Russian Orthodox deacon, says that the rising number of marriages in Moscow between ethnic Russian women and men from the north and south Caucasus represents “a form of genocide of the Russian people.”
Kurayev’s comments are appended to an article in “Komsomol’skaya pravda” which reported that the number of inter-ethnic marriages has risen dramatically in Moscow and that ethnic Russian women there now are marrying men from the Caucasus rather than other Slavs or Jews (
According to this article, the number of marriages in Moscow during the first seven months of this year was 44,000, up 4100 from the year before and a possible indication that the Russian government’s pro-natalist policies may be having their intended effect.
But one aspect of this development clearly troubles the newspaper: the percentage of inter-ethnic marriages is rising, especially between Russian women and non-Russian men and even more between ethnic Russian Muscovites and men from the three countries of the south Caucasus and the various non-Russian republics of the north Caucasus.
Twenty years ago, the paper says, only 15 percent of marriages in Moscow were interethnic. Now, 25 percent of them are. And the pattern of these marriages has changed dramatically as well, especially with regard to the 61 percent of them concluded between ethnic Russian women and non-Russian men.
Earlier, most of these interethnic marriages were between ethnic Russian women and closely related groups including Ukrainian men (23 percent), Belarusians (9.3 percent), and Russian-acculturated Jews (10.3 percent), with few Russian women in Moscow choosing to marry Georgians (1.2 percent), Azerbaijanis (1 percent), Armenians (2.9 percent), or other peoples of the Caucasus (0.2 percent).
Today, the situation is reversed. Ethnic Russian women now marry men from the latter groups far more often than they do members of the former. (There is some confusion in the article: Its text specifies the years being compared are 1985 and 1995-2005; the illustrated chart says these years are 1955 and 1995-2005.)
At present, only 12.3 percent of interethnic marriages between Russian women and non-Russian men are with Ukrainians, 1.7 percent with Belarusians, and 4.4 percent with Jews. But 8.7 percent are with Georgians, 6.8 percent with Azerbaijanis, 11.9 percent with Armenians, and 4.4 percent with men from other peoples of the Caucasus.
To a large extent, these shifts reflect the changing ethnic composition of the Russian capital and, as “Komsomol’skaya pravda” notes, the fact that many people from the Caucasus work in retail trade, where 70 percent of the employees are ethnic Russian women, many of whom now come in contact with the new arrivals.
But just as some Muslim groups in Russia have stressed that ethnic Russian women choose to marry Muslim men because the latter do not drink and are more committed to family life, this Russian paper is clearly interested in putting an ethnic spin on the data, albeit one of the opposite sign.
Ol’ga Makhovskaya, a researcher at the Moscow Institute of Psychology, told the paper that this change reflected calculations on the part of the non-Russian men. “For a Caucasus man,” she says, such arrangements are about “high status.” Marrying a Russian woman is “prestigious,” she says.
Moreover, she continues, “the majority of migrants are men of an active age and they need women even for purely physiological reasons.” Thus, they actively pursue them. And ethnic Russian women respond because people from the Caucasus are “historically considered as ours” and -- unlike Syrians or Ethiopians -- speak Russian.
But, she says, Russian women ought to be careful because while Muslim men are often attentive before marriage, they are often authoritarian after it and in addition, often have families at home that they are more interested in helping than the new ones they are forming in the Russian capital.
Others quoted by “Komsomol’skaya pravda” say that the migrants have other and not especially noble goals in marrying ethnic Russian women who live in Moscow: obtaining citizenship or at least permanent residence permits. And some of them even are willing to pay Russian women to enter fictional marriages to these ends.
However that may be, the current pattern of such marriages is likely to contribute to a change in Moscow’s ethnic composition in the coming generation, with at least some of the offspring identifying as or at least behaving in ways more typical of non-Russians than of ethnic Russians.
And those possibilities clearly disturb some: Ol’ga Kurbatova of the Vavilov Institute of General Genetics told the paper that if this trend continues, “after ten generations, 70 percent of the gene fund of [ethnic] Russians in Moscow will consist of ‘alien’ genes.”
But even more alarmist were the words of Deacon Andrei Kurayev, a professor of the Moscow Theological Academy.” He spoke about what he said were the immediate “threats” from this development rather than as Kurbatova did about something that might happen 200 years from now. His words deserve to be quoted in full:
“In fact,” Kurayev said, “inter-ethnic marriages are a form of genocide of the Russian people! When our women marry Caucasians, they enrich other peoples with their genes. And the Russian nation is weakened! For the children of a Russian woman and a Daghestani man will be Daghestanis and more than that Muslims.”
“In Israel,” the outspoken Russian Orthodox churchman continued, “there is an official state policy against marriages between Jews and Muslims. But in Russian, unfortunately, such inter-marriages [between Russians and non-Russians] are not even recognized as a problem.”

No comments: