The politics and economics of the Soviet Union caused large numbers of people to be transplanted from one region to another, for example:

  • The Crimean Tatars were deported to Central Asia;
  • Ethnic Russians were encouraged to settle in Estonia;
  • Dissidents of all stripes were exiled to Siberia.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, on what basis, then, was citizenship granted or withheld for each of the fifteen new republics?

My reading suggests that all of the post-Soviet states grant citizenship primarily on the basis of blood, and not birthplace. That's all well and good, but, for example, there was no independent Kyrgyz state before 1991. Logically, one cannot grant citizenship on the basis of blood, without an existing stock of citizenry from which to start. One could, of course, in the case of Kyrgyzstan, start off by granting citizenship on the basis of ethnicity, but ethnicity is always difficult to nail down precisely. Do you get citizenship on the basis of a Kyrgyz-sounding surname?

I'm especially interested in the case of persons of Russian descent with a connection to Central Asia. What boxes would such a person need to check in order to be granted citizenship of one of the Central Asian republics?

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    Maybe this would be better asked on the history SE? – Allure Oct 17 '20 at 12:25
  • There will probably be 15 different answers. But AFAIK Soviet identity documents did list ethnicity. – o.m. Oct 17 '20 at 12:33
  • Just noting that this question is awfully big for a short answer; you're asking for more than you may realize. I can't really answer it myself, but I suspect (setting aside the problematic case of German reunification) this was less difficult than you imagine. The USSR was only 69 years old at its dissolution; that's not enough time to break cultural or linguistic roots. People would have just 'gone back home' with documentation from their parents or grandparents, and for the most part the new independent states wouldn't have questioned it too much. – Ted Wrigley Oct 17 '20 at 12:34
  • @Allure Okay, I'll try asking my question on History SE. If I no-one's answered on here in 24 hours, then I'll delete my question. – chancellorofpaphos Oct 17 '20 at 12:49
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    @TedWrigley 'People would have just 'gone back home' with documentation from their parents or grandparents' - That's not true. I went to school (in the UK) with some boys who had Kazakh passports, but who spoke Russian when they didn't want the teachers to understand them. And I doubt the teachers spoke Kazakh! There was a lot of mingling in those 69 years, and in the Russian Empire before that, especially in Central Asia where nationalities have always been a more fluid affair. – chancellorofpaphos Oct 17 '20 at 12:54

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