Looking for (Trans)National Belonging: New Migration from Russia to Israel in 2010th
“Vova, I left because of you!” (Vova – pet name of Vladimir) – this and other slogans were showcased by the participants of the largest Russian-speaking public protest organized on January 23, 2021 in the major Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa and on April 21, 2021 in Tel Aviv. As opposed to immigrants’ organized activities oriented to internal Israeli issues, these protests were driven by the “Russian agenda” - a desire to express anti-Putin position and personal solidarity and support to relatives, friends and former colleagues who remained in Russia, as well as a sense of belonging to the community of new immigrants from Russia, which is now in tension with еру immigrants from Russia and USSR of past waves. Echoing the global protest events in Russian and diaspora, the local Israeli demonstration was launched by recent immigrants from Russia, commonly referred to in Hebrew as Putin's Aliyah (roughly meaning “repatriation” in Hebrew). Remarkably, this aforementioned slogan presented the authoritative regime in Russia as a major cause of immigration to Israel, implying the ambiguity of choice and necessity, and even associating the decision to emigrate as forced by Putin himself. In this paper we sketch a portrait of new migration wave from Putin’s Russia coming to Israel which increased during the last decade until today (CBS 2020). We present this group as a particular type of migration not only in the Israeli scene but also globally. It is as a part of the group which is described as new Russian “middle class”, high-educated and “westernized”, anxious about Putin’s regime and therefore deciding to emigrate from Russia (Gudkov, Zorkaya, 2013, Florinskaya, Karachurina, 2018, Levada-Center 2019). We will reveal how this migration is distinct from the very well-studied “Russian speaking Israelis” that arrived here in the earlier period (1990-2000). Combination of political and life-style dispositions of this new wave of migration and their practices of self-relocation makes them an intriguing case for study transnational forms of movement and belonging. These new immigrants usually practice distant jobs in their first years of immigration, continuing working on Russian employees. They participate in protest actions devoted to Russian politics which serve as symbolical group bond. They also reflect on their immigrant experience in blogs and digital communities which could be perceived as quasi-private quasi-public sphere where their transnational identity is also developed. These practices we examine in the paper. The paper is based on the ethnographic and netnographic interviews and observations collected in our pilot study within and about this group while examining their everyday and digital life, and is enriched by the comparative analysis with the earlier studies on Russian speaking migration to Israel.
Literature: Central Bureau of Statistic, Media-release “Immigration to Israel 2019”. 26.07.2020. Link https://www.cbs.gov.il/en/mediarelease/Pages/2020/Immigration-to-Israel-... Gudkov, L. D., & Zorkaja, N. A. (2013). Sterilizacija social'noj differenciacii: rossijskij «srednij klass» i jemigracija. [Sterilization of social differentiation: Russian “middle class” and emigration]. Mir Rossii. Sociologija. Jetnologija, 22(2). Florinskaya Y. F., Karachurina L. B. (2018) New wave of intellectual emigration from Russia: motives, channels and mechanisms. Monitoring of Public Opinion: economic and Social Changes. No. 6. P. 183—200. https://doi.org/10.14515/monitoring.2018.6.09. Levada-Center, Press-release “Emigration ressentiments”. 26.11.2019 Link https://www.levada.ru/2019/11/26/emigratsionnye-nastroeniya-4/
This paper is co-authored with Varvara Preter.
Does the ‘Tunnel Effect’ Still Apply? Social Mobility and Perceptions of Inequality in the New Russia
This paper addresses the issue of the interrelation between social mobility and perceptions of inequality (known as the ‘tunnel effect’) in contemporary Russia. Drawing from the Russian subsets of the International Social Survey Programme’s (ISSP) surveys, we estimate how actual and expected mobility differentiate support for redistribution. Official statistics and empirical survey data widely confirm that the large-scale socio-economic changes that took place in Russia during the 2000s brought an increase in living standards for most population groups and a more-than twofold reduction in poverty. However, according to the ISSP data from 2019, support for distribution is at its highest level since 1992. More than 90 per cent of Russians unequivocally perceive income gaps in the country as too high (the same as in the late 1990s) and unfair, and the conflict between the rich and the poor is considered to be the most critical. The demand for redistribution is voiced by the majority of representatives across all social groups; it is differentiated neither by basic sociodemographic characteristics, nor by human capital and income level. This demand is addressed to the state which, Russians believe, is failing to respond to the challenges of inequality. Overall, surprisingly, the situation resembles that seen in the 1990s when the country was going through a different development stage. We test the effects of actual and expected mobility on support for redistribution. Results of our regression analysis show that, in contrast to existing literature, including earlier studies on Russia, past mobility and expected medium-term mobility do not have any significant effect in this respect. The classic ‘tunnel effect’ is no longer visible in Russia. We show that the subjective categories, including attitudes towards inequality, are best explained by other subjective categories, primarily normative ideas of a fair social order and how far the observed reality is from it. The demand for redistribution in modern Russian society is based on such notions and not on the individual characteristics and one’s own specific situation, including actual or expected mobility. The only aspect of mobility (actually, volatility) that ‘works’ in this regard is people’s expectations of a worse financial situation in the near future, which increases the demand for redistribution. We offer several explanations of this effect, among which are specifics of configuration of inequality in Russia and its dynamics, instability of mass prosperity and the extreme concentration of income and wealth that is considered illegitimate in public opinion.
This paper is co-authored with Ekaterina Slobodenyuk and Vasiliy Anikin.
Legal Interpreters in Criminal Investigation Involving Migrants from Post-Soviet States in Contemporary Russia
The paper presents the results of a study of professional activities of interpreters in the process of investigation of criminal cases involving migrants from post-Soviet states in today’s Russia. Migrants as a socially marginalized group are in a particularly vulnerable position in the legal proceedings. In their interaction with Russian legal institutions migrants have to rely on mediators such as legal interpreters who are often migrants themselves. The empirical base of my study is formed by qualitative data from research of criminal and administrative trials in several Russian cities (St.-Petersburg, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod). The paper discusses the increased reliance on interpreters and the nature of their involvement in pre-trial investigation that remains the most important stage of the legal proceedings in today’s Russia. The paper reveals the peculiarities of investigators’ attitude towards the presence of legal interpreters and the factors that have been influencing this attitude within the last two decades. Special attention is devoted to the functions of legal interpreters, their formal and informal interactions with detainees/arrestees and investigators. I also consider the “gray zone” of remuneration of interpreters’ services in the legal sphere in contemporary Russia. In the situation of absence of professional associations, the boundaries of competence of interpreters are blurred and depend on a broad range of factors. As a result, different types of professional behavior are being practiced. It has been found that the type of professional behavior adopted by an interpreter is defined first of all by his/her level of education, legal status and also social characteristics. The paper singles out the models of behavior of interpreters which depend on the size of a diaspora, the degree of ethnic solidarity and the density of social ties. Since legal interpreting is included into asymmetrical power relations within the juridical field, particular attention has been devoted to revealing the strategies and tactics used by legal interpreters and jurists. The paper demonstrates that the current structure of the juridical field predetermines reproduction of a homologous system of stratification of the legal interpreters’ community.
Producing "Good Friends" of the Soviet Union: Soviet Soft Power in the Field of Higher Education During Cold War
Higher education was one of the most important fields of Soviet soft power and cooperation with the newly independent countries of the developing world during Cold War period. The official goal of this cooperation was that the students would gain their university degrees in Soviet universities, return home as ""good friends of the Soviet Union"" and form new, Soviet-minded elites to their countries, thus spreading the Soviet sphere of influence to new territories. My research project analyzes this process through the case of Peoples' Friendship University in Moscow, which was founded in 1960 specifically to educate students from the developing world. The officially stated goal of turning the foreign students into “good friends” of the Soviet Union was pursued through different types of political and cultural activities both at the university and outside it, in different locations around Moscow and other parts of the Soviet Union during holidays.
Foreign students arrived to the country with different motivations and expectations, and had different attitudes towards the educational and ideological work conducted by the Soviet authorities: certain foreign students possessed keen interest towards the ideas of Maoism, African and Arab forms of socialism, and were willing to express their critique towards the Soviet society and its ideology openly, while for others the Soviet educational cooperation provided a positive opportunity for social improvement.
Both types of responses were also visible in the public sphere of the Soviet society, as the students had an important role in the public propaganda promoting Soviet aid and cooperation with the developing world, while the unofficial demonstrations expressing the students’ critique in public were unusual events that gained state-level attention and reactions. In the private sphere, different kinds of attitudes towards the surrounding Soviet society and its state ideology existed: many interracial marriages took place and at the same time the students were experiencing racist attacks from the side of the Soviet citizens.
My paper analyzes these different attitudes and responses of the students to the Soviet educational project as well as the Soviet attempts to influence the students through political and cultural activities. Together, these two sides of analysis provide an overview to the grassroots level of Soviet cooperation in the field of higher education. At the same time, it explores the everyday realities and ideological goals of an interesting form of global migration between the Soviet Union and countries of the newly-independent countries of the Global South.
Contested Nationhood and the Politics of Diaspora Mobilisation: the Case of Bosnian Communities in Switzerland
The outbreak of violent conflicts is one of the major catalyst of mass migration on a global scale. After the fall of communism, Eastern Europe saw an outbreak of violent conflicts on its space, many of which on an ethno-national basis. Violence forced people to move to other countries and continents however this did not mean that they left the conflict behind. In many ways, conflicts have transnational repercussions and continue to affect the lives of people in new migration contexts.
Using the case of Bosnian migrant communities in Switzerland, in this paper I will explore the ways in which the legacies of the violent conflict in the homeland can affect processes of mobilisation of diaspora communities (Sökefeld 2006). With the violent break-up of Yugoslavia and the consequent wars, specifically the war in Bosnia (1992 – 1995), thousands of Bosnians fled to Switzerland. Many of them stayed, building one of the largest ex-Yugoslav diasporas in Europe and establishing various migrant organisations. They also became rooted here through their children, the second generation. Based on interviews with first and second-generation Bosnians, I will trace the influence of the past and ongoing conflict in Bosnia on the dynamics of diasporic life in Switzerland. While projecting the image a multi-ethnic integrated state, post-war Bosnia is a country deeply divided along ethnic lines. Its contested nationhood has various repercussion for the Bosnian migrant communities abroad. These are manifested in problematic relationships between the migrant communities and diplomatic representations of Bosnia in Switzerland, in politics of representation of Bosnian diaspora as ethnically inclusive/exclusive, in practices of commemoration and interpretations of the Bosnian war as transmitted within the community. It is within these various migrant contexts that the contested nature of the Bosnian nationhood, its past political violence as well as its present continuations unfold, allowing researchers to study the complex transnational dynamics involved in the politics of diaspora mobilisation.
The Interaction of the State and Diaspora Organizations within Adaptation and Integration of Migrants (Case of Tomsk and Irkutsk)
The rapid growth of cross-border migration resulted to the formation of the immigrant communities and their institutionalization. These processes actualized the discussions about the ""diasporization of the world"" that is understood as one of the leading trends in human development. Russian Federation is the one of the countries experiencing the migration pressure. This situation is connected with changing of the ethnic structure of migration flows. The main part of these flows consist of labor migrants from the states of post-soviet space: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. Migration processes are the key factors that shape new challenges for the implementation of national and migration policy of the state. Thus, Russia faces serious challenges of regulating the migration processes, social and cultural adaptation of migrants, and risks of inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions. A flexible and competent approach to the formation of migration policy, building a dialogue between state authorities, civil society and other target groups (local community and migrants) will allow to solve these problems. One of the main participants of this process are non-profit Diaspora organizations (national cultural autonomies, societies, centers, etc.). Therefore, there is a necessity to study the existing mechanisms for building interaction between the state and civil society, including Diaspora organizations. How is the cooperation and coordination of state agencies and Diaspora organisations within the policy integration carried out? How effective are the resources used for this purpose? What is the role of each of these actors within ensuring the social and cultural adaptation and integration of migrants?
The activities of Diaspora organizations have studied by Russian researchers such as V. Mukomel, A. Osipov, E. Filippova, V. Dyatlov, D. Poletaev, V. Peshkova, O. Brednikova, O. Tkach, etc. Most investigations in this area focuses on the situation of Moscow, St. Petersburg and other major Russian cities. However, the situation beyond the Urals remains poorly understood. This research is based on two Siberian cities that are the industrial, scientific and educational centers - Tomsk and Irkutsk. These cities have historically been the centers of the formation of a migrant society in Siberia, where labor migrants from Central Asia and China still come. Moreover, Tomsk and Irkutsk receive a large number of educational migrants. The main methods of collecting field materials were quantitative and qualitative methods: questionnaire survey, interview, and participating observation.
The study demonstrates that the national cultural organizations operate as mediator between migrants and the state, although these organizations are not empowered to represent and protect their interests and influence the state migration policy at the Federal and regional levels. They perform both the cultural and the social functions, supporting migrants in legal, housing, social, medical and other spheres of life. At the same time, governments expect them to strictly comply with the orders, without giving them the necessary power , rights and resources. Therefore, the effective implementation of state migration policy requires development of the mechanisms for interaction between different actors involved in the adaptation and integration of migrants: Federal and local governments, employers, scientific and educational institutes, cultural and medical organizations, on the one hand, and civil society, including Diaspora organizations, on the other. The research was carried out with the financial support of the Russian Science Foundation in the framework of the project No. 18-18-00293 ""The Use and Creation of Urban Infrastructures by Migrants in Siberian Regional Centres""."
This paper is co-authored with Diana Bryazgina.