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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Plan Will Resettle Returning Russians

Russian government advisers have drawn up a long-term plan to resettle up to 11 million Russians who may leave various states of the former Soviet Union. The deputy head of a special advisory council, Sergei Afanasyev, said it was proposing to resettle ethnic Russians, now leaving Central Asia and the Baltics in growing numbers, in selected regions of central Russia and Siberia. The regions, including Tver, Novgorod, Yaroslavl and Omsk, would be granted tax benefits and support to build houses and stimulate business. Settlers would be given land to grow food and, as far as possible, support themselves. The problems of Russians leaving the republics have become a sensitive issue in Moscow politics. Many complain they face prejudice and intimidation in the republics with the collapse of Moscow rule and say they receive scant payment for their houses. Some 25 million ethnic Russians live outside Russia in what Moscow calls the near abroad. Russians are also, in increasing numbers, leaving the cities of Russia's Far North where huge state subsidies of Soviet times have fallen dramatically. Under the plan, they would also be channeled into the resettlement areas. Afanasyev, speaking by telephone, said the scheme would have to be presented to and approved by the government and parliament. Russia urgently needs a comprehensive policy to resettle Russians now arriving in major cities and overloading already inadequate social services. To ignore the problem would be to court serious social and political tensions. However, as with many schemes to cope with disruption in Russia following the breakup of the Soviet Union, it could stay largely on paper even if approved. The cost of resettling 11 million people, even in areas where roads and other infrastructure already exist, could prove well beyond Russian state coffers.