Libmonster ID: VN-1211


Candidate of Social Sciences Belgorod State University


Candidate of Economic Sciences, Institute of Socio-Political Research, Russian Academy of Sciences

Keywords: "Russian" diasporaSoutheast Asia, VietnamThailandmigration flows"downshifters"

After the collapse of the USSR, migration processes intensified in the post-Soviet space, the main trend of which was the mass return of Russians from the former Soviet republics to Russia. At the same time, immigration from Russia to non-CIS countries has become another direction. Mostly, Russians went to European countries and the North American continent.

In recent decades, the rapid development of once backward countries, the intensification of trade, tourism, and cultural ties with these states have led to the emergence of "Russian" diasporas in the most exotic corners of the world, including in Southeast Asia (SE).

The formation of the" Russian " community1 in the Southeast Asian countries began in the 1960s-1970s, a period of rapid development of Soviet - Vietnamese cooperation, when thousands of Soviet specialists helped in the functioning of the economy during the war, and then the restoration of Vietnam's war-torn economy, and gave an impetus to the industrial development of this country. The long-term work of specialists from the Soviet Union in Vietnam and some other Southeast Asian countries, primarily in Laos and Cambodia, led to numerous interethnic marriages. By the end of the 1980s, the curtailment of trade and economic ties between Russia and these countries of the "socialist camp" in the region led to a reduction in human contacts.

The 1990s marked a new stage of Russia's presence in the Southeast Asian countries. The opening of borders previously inaccessible to Russians and Southeast Asian countries and the rapid development of the tourist flow from Russia, primarily to Thailand, have opened up new opportunities.

Over the past two decades, Thailand has transformed from an exotic, expensive destination for Russian tourists to a country of mass tourism, which is second only to Turkey and Egypt in the segment of "beach" holidays for Russians. According to Rosstat, the number of Russians who visited Thailand increased from 263,000 in 2007 to 1,112,000 in 2012, i.e. by more than 4 times (see Chart 1).

It is quite natural that some Russian tourists, once arriving in Thailand and some other Southeast Asian countries, appreciated not only the charms of tropical nature, but also the cheapness of living in these countries and decided to settle here for a longer time. To date, the "Russian" community in Thailand alone is estimated at several tens of thousands of people, most of whom have settled in the resort areas of Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui and in the capital - Bangkok 2.

However, it is necessary to distinguish between motivational and qualitative characteristics of migration from Russia to Southeast Asian countries. If the main motive for leaving Russia for Western countries remains a higher level of socio-economic development of the latter (which also determines many other elements that determine the quality of life of the population), then immigration to the Southeast Asian countries is fundamentally different. In comparison, Russia wins in most socio-economic parameters (second only to Singapore from the Southeast Asian countries and being approximately at the same level of development as Malaysia).

But, strange as it may seem, in this case this does not play in favor of Russia, since one of the main factors of attractiveness of migration for Russians is the low cost of living in the Southeast Asian countries. Based on rough estimates, the base prices are

The study was conducted with the support of the Russian State Scientific Foundation. Project N 13 - 22 - 09002.

page 52

Chart 1. Growth in the number of Russians who visited Thailand in the period 2007-2012 (thousands of people).

Источник: statistics/ftrade/#

Prices for food and housing in comparable segments, for example, in Thailand, are 2-3 times lower than in the Russian province. If we compare the cost of living in the largest Russian megacities, such as Moscow or St. Petersburg, then the price ratio is clearly "in favor" of the Southeast Asian countries.3

Another indisputable advantage of the Southeast Asian countries for temporary or permanent relocation of Russian citizens here is the natural and climatic factor: the opportunity to live on the ocean coast, with a more calm, measured rhythm of life, and moreover with much lower costs directly for living.

All this has led to the development of not only relatively traditional forms of Russian-speaking migration to Southeast Asian countries (businessmen and their families, well-off pensioners, etc.), but also an increase in the number of so-called "downshifters"*. For downshifters, who usually consist of former office workers who lived in major Russian cities, Southeast Asian countries have become one of their main immigration destinations. These Russians are attracted by the combination of favorable natural and climatic conditions, cheap accommodation, and the Buddhist philosophy that dominates most of the Southeast Asian countries.

The modern" capital " of the Russian - speaking community in Southeast Asia can be considered the main resort of Thailand-Pattaya. The number of Russians staying here at the same time reaches 70 thousand 4, which makes this city one of the largest centers of residence of Russians abroad. In its segment of resort areas, according to the number of Russians living there, Pattaya is probably second only to Turkey's Antalya and Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh. In addition, recent political events in Egypt, which have destabilized the country, are likely to lead to a reduction in the number of Russians buying housing in resort areas, and a reorientation of some of them to the Southeast Asian countries.

The special position of Pattaya as the" capital of the Russian Southeast Asia " determines not only the relatively large Russian-speaking population, but also its dominant position in the economy and social sphere of this region. As noted by the well-known researcher M. Zavadsky, " recent years, Pattaya has formed the largest Russian-speaking community in Asia," and the invasion of our compatriots in this city has already led to the outflow of representatives of other nationalities from Pattaya, dissatisfied with the dominance of "Russians"5.

Thailand has five Russian-language TV channels 6. There are dozens of businesses, restaurants, hotels, night clubs and even kindergartens in Pattaya and other resort areas that are owned by Russian-speaking owners and are focused on working with Russian clients. However, not only representatives of other immigrant communities, but also local Thais are dissatisfied with the dominance of "Russians". For example, in January 2013, mass demonstrations were even held in Phuket by Thai entrepreneurs who were dissatisfied with the competition from Russian businessmen.7

The prospects for the further presence of "Russians" in Thailand are ambiguous. On the one hand, the number of our compatriots buying housing and living in this country continues to grow steadily. But on the other hand, Russians, as well as other foreigners, practically do not integrate into the local Thai society, which is due to the huge civilizational difference, difficulties in mastering the local language and the complexity of the naturalization process.

In addition to the low cost of living in the Southeast Asian countries, which are attractive for our compatriots, and favorable climatic conditions, in favor of increasing the cost of living in the Southeast Asian countries.

* Downshifting (from the English Downshifting) -slowing down or weakening any process. In this case, it is a rejection of higher socio-economic standards of life in megacities in favor of a more measured and meaningful life in an environment close to nature.

page 53

Figure 2. Dynamics of Russia's trade turnover with some Southeast Asian countries in 2007 and 2012 ($ million)

Источник: statistics/ftrade/#

The expanding trade and economic cooperation of the Southeast Asian countries with Russia also speaks for the "Russian" community in these countries. The expansion of Russia's relations with the Southeast Asian countries shows the most impressive growth in trade turnover, shown in Diagram 2. For example, in the period 2007-2012, the volume of our trade relations with Vietnam increased 3.4 times, with Singapore - 8.2 times, and with Thailand - 13 times! And this is during the period of the global financial and economic crisis of 2008-2009.

Among the Southeast Asian countries that attract immigrants from Russia, an important position is also occupied by Singapore and Malaysia, whose level of economic development is much higher than that of other countries in the region. At the same time, immigration from Russia to these countries is somewhat different. Singapore, being one of the most highly developed countries on the planet, with very high prices for housing and services, cannot meet the needs of Russians for good natural and climatic conditions combined with cheap living. Therefore, the" Russian " community in Singapore (approximately 2 thousand people 8) consists of highly qualified specialists in the largest multinational companies that have their headquarters and offices in this city.

Southeast Asia has become one of the fastest growing destinations for temporary or permanent immigration from Russia. Russians move to the countries of this region, attracted mainly by the natural and climatic conditions, as well as the opportunity to invest their funds in relatively cheap real estate and businesses.

However, this immigration is likely to be non-permanent, due to at least two reasons. Firstly, it is almost impossible for" Russians "to fully integrate into the local community, and, secondly, the" Russian " community in these countries can only exist by maintaining permanent ties with Russia (i.e., serving Russian tourists, receiving funds from businesses in Russia, etc.).

At the same time, it is possible that among the "Russian" community in the Southeast Asian countries, the segment of downshifters will continue to expand, as well as people who purchase real estate to live in the Southeast Asian countries for a certain period of time ("winterers"). It is possible, apparently, to predict the expansion of the geography of the "Russian" presence.

* * *

If by now large communities of Russians in the Southeast Asian region exist only in Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore, then the development of tourist and economic ties with Indonesia (Bali), the Philippines, and Cambodia may lead to the emergence of "Russian" communities in these countries, and in the coming years.

1 Hereafter, the Russian community is defined as all persons whose native and/or primary language is Russian, i.e. not only natives of Russia, but also from many other countries, primarily post-Soviet countries.

Zavadsky M. 2 Russo aborigeno / / Expert. 2011, N 26.

Zolotukhin I. N. 3 Nekotorye aspekty zhizni russkikh v Thailde (na primere Pattaya) [Some aspects of Russian life in Thailand (on the example of Pattaya)]. 2012, N 1.

Zavadsky M. 4 Decree. Op.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 2013/01 /28/n_2728409.shtml



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