Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Window on Eurasia: Russian Women in Moscow Attracted to Muslim Men as Marriage Partners

Paul Goble

Vienna, August 21 – A significant fraction of ethnic Russian women in Moscow are choosing to marry Muslim men -- at least in part because the latter typically do not smoke or drink, want several children, and are prepared to work to suppor t their families, according to researchers at the Russian Academy of Science.
During the first half of 2007, there were more than 60,000 marriages in the Russian capital, a quarter of which were between native Muscovite – typically an ethnic Russian woman -- and a citizen of a neighboring country – more often than not a man from Azerbaijan or Central Asia.
And partially as a result of this trend – and not just the Kremlin’s current pro-natalist policies -- Russian demographers say, the number of births is increasing: During the first six months of this year, there were 48,225 newborns in Moscow, some 2438 more than in the same period a year earlier (http://islamnews.ru/news-6868.html).
For many observers who are familiar with the hostility many Russians and especially residents of Moscow display toward immigrants from these countries – including support for discriminatory measures against “persons of Caucasus nationality” – this development seems at best counter-intuitive.
But scholars who have looked into the question say that is makes perfect sense given that people generally choose marriage partners not on the basis of generalizations about this or that ethnic community but rather on the personal qualities that the potential partner brings to the table.
Olga Kurbatova, a senior scholar at the Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, noted that “girls in the capital see in migrants precisely the model of a real man: in practice, they don’t drink, especially Muslims like the Chechens, Ingush and Azerbaijanis,” they work hard, they are able to support a family and they want children.”
“Many of our [ethnic] Russian men,” she noted, are “exactly the opposite” with regard to each of these highly valued characteristics.
And Elena Spirkina, the rector of the Moscow Institute of Practical Psychology and Psychoanalysis, added, “Moscow women are seeking stability” when they marry “an Eastern man. They seek that which they did not have in their own childhood with their own parents.”

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