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What percentage of Russian are white?

The alienation of black people in Russia

When thinking of populations of African origin, Russia is perhaps one of the last places on Earth to come to mind; yet, it is home to a population of over 70,000 black people. Like in many other countries, black people in Russia face discrimination, but the context is different than, for example, in the United States. As part of Black History Month, we take a look at the often uneasy lives of Russia’s black population.

Unlike many Western countries, Russia never oppressed black people as a singled-out group: rather, oppression was universal. Up until the mid-19th century, most of the Russian population were de-facto slaves, with no freedom over their bodies or fates. One of the few Russian-Africans that we know a lot about was a free man named Abram Hannibal; the great-grandfather of Russia’s most famous poet Alexander Pushkin ended up in the snowy land by a bizarre chain of events and became the godson and life-long friend of Peter the Great.

Of course, if Russia had participated in the African slave trade, it is not hard to imagine that treatment of black people would be very different. Like fellow powerful European nations, Russia had a typical white supremacist attitude, putting white Christian (noble) men at the top of its social hierarchy. In the early 20th century, there was a “Somali village” in St. Petersburg where Africans, wearing hay skirts, staged performances next to a rollercoaster — a spectacle that was almost equivalent to a “human zoo.”

This attitude changed after the 1917 revolution and the proclaimed friendship of the peoples. The Soviet propaganda trumpeted cases like the one of black engineer Robert Robinson, who did not face racial discrimination there, unlike in the US. The wave of decolonisation brought thousands of Africans to study in the Soviet Union, leading to the first generation of mixed-race children.

The fall of the Soviet Union tore the illusion of an internationalist utopia. The 1990’s and 2000’s were a rampant age for racists, who targeted everyone of a different ethnicity, and black people in particular. Nevertheless, Africans continued to migrate to metropolitan Russian cities in search of work or to escape from war and hunger, despite the impossibility of receiving a refugee status in the country.

Thousands of people, particularly from Nigeria, Cameroon and Central Africa, are deceptively lured to Russia for false jobs promised by fraudsters, only to arrive in the country and be left without means. The language barrier and prejudice often make it impossible for them to find any better opportunity than handing out fliers on the street for as little as $2 per hour. It is not uncommon for African women in Russia to turn to sex work.

To a different extent, dealing with prejudice is challenging for black and mixed-race people born and raised in Russia and integrated into society. According to them, the biggest problem is casual racism: taxi drivers leaving as soon as they see their prospective passengers and bartenders refusing to serve them for no apparent reason. All my life I have watched Russian people routinely refer to black people with pejorative terms — not because of blatant, aggressive racism, but rather due to ignorance and a complete lack of awareness about global Black history.

Immigration of Africans to Russia will continue and increase, therefore it is the responsibility of the government and society to facilitate their integration. The complex process must start in schools (which currently avoid race issues altogether) and continue through an improved inclusion of Africans in the Russian labour market, media and politics. Otherwise, Russia will propagate the marginalisation of future immigrants, solely due to their race.

FACT SHEET: On One Year Anniversary of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, Biden Administration Announces Actions to Support Ukraine and Hold Russia Accountable

One year ago, Russia launched its brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The United States has rallied the world in response, working with our allies and partners to provide Ukraine with critical security, economic, and humanitarian assistance and leading unprecedented efforts to impose costs on Russia for its aggression. This week, President Biden visited Kyiv, Ukraine and Warsaw, Poland to send a clear and powerful message that the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.

Today, on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, the United States is announcing a series of additional actions to continue providing Ukraine with the support it needs and holding Russia accountable for its war of aggression. A more comprehensive list of actions the U.S. has taken over the past year in response to Russia’s invasion is available HERE.

Support for Ukraine

Providing additional security assistance for Ukraine: Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced an additional security assistance package for Ukraine under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI). These capabilities include several new Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) equipment to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses and help protect its people, and electronic warfare detection equipment to bolster Ukraine’s ability to repel Russia’s aggression. The package also includes a large amount of ammunition for 155mm artillery systems and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that have proved so effective on the battlefield, as well as mine clearing equipment and secure communications support equipment.

Earlier this week, the Biden Administration announced the 32nd security assistance package using Presidential Drawdown Authorities (PDA) for Ukraine, which included critical capabilities such as air surveillance radars to enhance Ukraine’s air defenses and Javelin anti-tank weapons that Ukraine has used to defend themselves on the battlefield. That PDA package will draw from existing U.S. stocks to help Ukraine fulfill its immediate battlefield needs, while today’s USAI package is part of the U.S. commitment to supporting Ukraine’s armed forces both now and over the longer-term.

Delivering needed economic support: This week, the United States began disbursing $9.9 billion in grant financing, thanks to the bipartisan support of Congress, to help Ukraine meet the critical needs of its citizens, including healthcare, education, and emergency services. This budget support is being disbursed via the World Bank’s Public Expenditures for Administrative Capacity Endurance (PEACE) mechanism on a reimbursement basis once expenses have been verified. Continued U.S. economic assistance has helped rally other international donors, including 2023 commitments from the European Commission, Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom, to provide Ukraine with needed economic assistance. The G7 has increased its commitment of budget and economic support to Ukraine to $39 billion for 2023. Today, G7 Leaders asked Finance Ministers to continue engagement with the International Monetary Fund and Ukraine to deliver an ambitious program by the end of March 2023 and to continue working together, with the IMF and others for necessary budget support to Ukraine throughout and beyond 2023.

Strengthening Ukraine’s energy infrastructure: As part of our efforts to respond to Russia’s strikes against Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure, the United States is preparing to deliver the Department of Energy’s third shipment of critical electrical transmission grid equipment to Ukraine by early March. The shipment will include several mobile generators to help provide back-up power. This delivery follows USAID’s recent provision of a mobile natural gas-fired turbine power plant that can generate enough electricity to power at least 100,000 Ukrainian homes.

Working with Congress, the Biden-Harris Administration also plans to provide up to $250 million in additional emergency energy assistance to Ukraine to help Ukraine further strengthen its grid in the face of Russia’s attacks. We also plan to provide up to $300 million in emergency energy assistance for Moldova, working with Congress, to increase local electric power generation, provide fiscal support, and improve interconnectivity between Moldova and the European Union.

Imposing Economic Costs on Russia

Securing major G7 commitments: G7 Leaders are convening today to announce a new set of economic commitments to hold Russia accountable for its war against Ukraine. To counter Russia’s attempt to circumvent G7 measures to date, Leaders will support the establishment of an Enforcement Coordination Mechanism, which will be chaired by the United States in the first year. To ensure Russia pays for Ukraine’s long-term reconstruction, G7 countries will continue to keep Russia’s sovereign assets immobilized until there is a resolution to the conflict that addresses Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity. New commitments on imposing economic pressure measures against Russia’s energy, extractive, financial, and defense and industrial sectors also will be endorsed. The United States will swiftly implement these commitments by taking the below actions.

Imposing extensive sanctions on Russia’s economy: Today, in coordination with G7 partners and allies, the Departments of the Treasury and State will implement sweeping sanctions against key revenue generating sectors in order to further degrade Russia’s economy and diminish its ability to wage war against Ukraine. This will result in sanctions being imposed on over 200 individuals and entities, including both Russian and third-country actors across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East that are supporting Russia’s war effort. As part of this announcement, we will target a dozen Russian financial institutions, in alignment with allies and partners, as well as Russian officials and proxy authorities illegitimately operating in Ukraine. We will sanction additional actors tied to Russia’s defense and technology industry, including those responsible for backfilling Russian stocks of sanctioned items or enabling Russian sanctions evasion. It also includes the targeting of Russia’s future energy capabilities in a manner that does not impact current production to minimize market disruption. The United States also is expanding its sanctions authorities to Russia’s metals and mining sector, tailored to minimize market disruption.

Restricting exports to Russia: Today, the Department of Commerce will take several export control actions, listing nearly 90 Russian and third country companies, including in China among other countries, on the Entity List for engaging in sanction evasion and backfill activities in support of Russia’s defense sector. These listings will prohibit the targeted companies from purchasing items, such as semiconductors, whether made in the U.S. or with certain U.S. technology or software abroad. Commerce will also take action alongside G7 partners and allies to align measures on industrial machinery, luxury goods, and other items, as well as issue new restrictions to prevent components found in Iranian drones from making their way onto the battlefield in Ukraine.

Increasing tariffs on Russian products: Today, the President will sign proclamations to raise tariffs on certain Russian products imported to the United States, building on previous efforts to strip Russia of its international trade privileges. These measures are designed to target key Russian commodities generating revenue for the Kremlin while reducing U.S. reliance on Russia. These measures are carefully calibrated to impose costs on Russia while minimizing costs to U.S. consumers. Today’s action will result in increased tariffs on more than 100 Russian metals, minerals, and chemical products worth approximately $2.8 billion to Russia. It will also significantly increase costs for aluminum that was smelted or cast in Russia to enter the U.S. market in order to counter harm to the domestic aluminum industry, which is being squeezed by energy costs as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

These sanctions, export controls, and tariffs are part of our ongoing efforts to impose strong additional economic costs on Russia. We will continue to work with our allies and partners to use all economic tools available to us to disrupt Russia’s ability to wage its war and degrade its economy over time.

Holding Russia Accountable

Increasing use of accountability tools: This past week, Vice President Harris announced at the Munich Security Conference that the State Department has determined, following a careful analysis of the law and available facts, that members of Russia’s forces and other Russian officials have committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine. The United States and our partners are committed to holding those who are responsible for Russia’s attacks and atrocities against the people of Ukraine accountable — ensuring that perpetrators, human rights violators, and war criminals are brought to justice. We will continue to support a range of investigations into Russia’s atrocities, including by Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, through the United Nations, the Expert Missions established under the OSCE “Moscow Mechanism,” and the International Criminal Court among others. U.S. assistance is helping build the capacity of Ukraine’s domestic authorities to hold individuals accountable for war crimes and other atrocities and abuses.

Building support at the United Nations: This week, the United States has worked closely with allies and partners to rally 141 countries from every corner of the world to support a UN General Assembly resolution that underscores the need for a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine — in line with the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity represented in the UN Charter. At an Emergency Special Session on February 22 and 23, an overwhelming number of Member States expressed their ongoing support for Ukraine. And today, exactly one year since the start of Russia’s brutal invasion, Secretary Blinken will reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Ukraine at a ministerial-level meeting of the UN Security Council on the “Maintenance of Peace and Security of Ukraine.”

What percentage of Russian are white?

“Russian” immigrants include two different groups: ethnic Russians and Russian Jews. Historically, however, the term “Russian” was inconsistently used by U.S. immigration authorities to include such diverse groups as Belarusians, Ukrainians, Poles, non-Russian Jews, and even Germans. Historians have therefore had difficulty determining precisely how many Russian immigrants have made Chicago home over the course of the city’s history. While a majority of ethnic Russians and Russian Jews settled on the East Coast, Chicago became the largest center of Russian Jews and ethnic Russians in the Midwest.

Between 1861 and 1880, a small number of Russian Jews immigrated to Chicago’s South Side, where they were left relatively unharmed by the Great Fire of 1871 but then badly hit by the fire of 1874. Russian Jews began arriving in Chicago in larger numbers during the 1880s to escape the persecution that had recently begun intensifying at home. By 1930, they constituted 80 percent of Chicago’s Jewish population.

The Russian Jews who arrived in Chicago between 1881 and 1920 created a substitute for the culture of the shtetl in the densely populated area around Maxwell Street, where they created a thriving outdoor market. These immigrants worked largely in the clothing industry; others became butchers, small merchants, or street peddlers. After 1910, the immigrants who had given Maxwell Street its unique character began migrating toward Ashland, North Lawndale, Lake View, and Albany Park. By 1930, the population of Russian Jews in the Maxwell Street area had declined markedly, and after 1945 many began moving even further from the city’s center, to the suburbs and to West Rogers Park, which remained the largest Jewish community in Chicago through the 1990s. Between 1969 and 1990, 23,000 Russian Jews and an estimated 500 ethnic Russian immigrants settled along Devon Avenue in West Rogers Park, as well as in Albany Park, Glenview, Northbrook, and Mount Prospect.

Ethnic Russians immigrating to Chicago in the early twentieth century settled most often in West Town, eventually earning the area around West Division, Wood, and Leavitt Streets the nickname “Little Russia.”

The Russian Orthodox community organized around such institutions as Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral on North Leavitt, completed in 1903 after a $4,000 donation from the tsar. Between 1920 and 1924, many of those forced to flee in the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution settled in Chicago. At the same time, a number of those who supported the new Soviet system returned to Russia to join the revolution. Still, many “reds” and “whites” continued to live side by side in Chicago. The “whites” gathered in Holy Trinity Cathedral while the “reds” met on North Western Avenue for mass, or in the Russian Workers Co-Operative Restaurant on West Division.

Throughout the 1920s, many ethnic Russians and Russian Jews worked on Chicago’s West Side for McCormick Reaper (International Harvester), Western Electric, or Sears, Roebuck & Co. With large employers laying off workers in the early years of the Great Depression, the Russian-American Citizen’s Club was organized in 1930 to lend a hand and voice to a growing number of unemployed workers. The Russian Independent Mutual Aid Society, a working-class fraternal society founded in 1914, incorporated in 1931 to provide benefits in cases of injury or death and to lend small sums of money to those hit hardest by an unforgiving economy.

Both ethnic Russians and Russian Jews have worked to preserve their own cultures while simultaneously adapting to life in the United States. The Russian Literary Society was founded in 1890. The short-lived Russian People’s University (1918–1920) as well as various cultural festivals such as “Znanie” were created to preserve traditional Russian folk songs, literature, and dances. And though only a handful survived more than a few years, at least 19 newspapers and 11 Russian magazines were published in Chicago after 1891. In 1973 the Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe (FREE) began helping to ensure that local knowledge of Jewish heritage be remembered and shared. Other Jews from the former Soviet Union have maintained more of a Russian identity than a Jewish one, continuing to speak Russian and, together with ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians, supporting the publication of more than 10 magazines in Russian, including the biweekly Zemliaki (since 1996), the weekly Obzor (since 1997), and the daily Svet (since 1992). They have also organized language-specific libraries, poetry readings, and choirs.

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