Return Migration From Russia to Kyrgyzstan: Dynamics, Causes, and Structure
The study’s significance lies in the need for comprehensive information on return labor migration from Russia to Kyrgyzstan and the profiles of return migrants, which would allow us to anticipate spatial mobility in the future. This is particularly relevant due to Russia’s interest in new migrants as essential labor force to address the demographic crisis. The Kyrgyzstani government also requires these data to prevent unemployment among return migrants. This paper aims to assess return migration dynamics and its structure, uncover the causes, goals, and reasons for recurrent migration to Russia, and examine the expectations of Russia’s social and migration policy during the special military operation. The empirical analytical base comprises the results of a questionnaire survey of 515 return migrants and focused in-depth interviews with 37 return migrants in Kyrgyzstan in October–November 2022, as well as a questionnaire survey of 425 labor migrants and focused interviews with 52 labor migrants in November–December 2022 in Moscow. The findings indicate that return migration is voluntary and spontaneous. The official estimate of the scope of return migration, as well as the prospects of labor migration to Russia after February 24th, 2022 and the imposition of anti-Russian sanctions, remains unclear. The structure of return migration aligns with the structure of labor migration in Russia in terms of gender, age, and employment sectors. The motivation behind the decision to return has a cumulative effect. However, most respondents cited personal and family issues as the main reasons for return migration. Approximately 30% of respondents, regardless of gender, attributed the special military operation and the worsening economic situation in Russia as reasons for returning to their home country. About 22% of respondents envision recurrent migration to Russia in the near future, while around 30% have not yet decided. Labor migrants seek institutional support from Russia, including assistance in preparing registration documents, social insurance provision, removal of administrative obstacles for employment, and the creation of favorable conditions for adaptation.