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How many Russians in Belgium?
It is not by occasion that the full name of Russia is Russian Federation. It is comprised of 89 regions with a varying degree of autonomy. Many of those regions have a strong ethnic bias, e.g. Tatarstan, with over 3 mln of tatars. Things were even more complicated in Soviet Union where Russian Federation was one of 15 republics.
For the purpose of this research, we adapt a simplified definition of Russian being someone who either have being through the soviet educational system and speaks fluent Russian, or someone who speak Russian in family.
This definition does not fit exactly to the available statistics, so we combine the data from Statbel and the results of the polls conducted on Russian-Belgium.be in an attempt to get to a realistic approximation.
We start with the following data at hand:
- Belgian residents from the ex-USSR countries that reside in Belgium on January 1, 2008: 21655.1
- Former or current citizens of ex-USSR countries that acquired Belgian citizenship in 2003-2007: 7510.2
- The share of Russian-Belgium.be members that had the right to vote in EU elections by June, 7 2009 (poll size: 104): 46%.3
- The share of Russian-Belgium.be members that had the right to vote at the local elections by June, 10 2007 (poll size: 109): 70%.4
- The poll on identity cards and residence permits of the Russian-Belgium.be members (31% are Belgian citizens, 41% are registered Belgian residents (poll size: ~1000).5
Put aside the difference in dates between #3 and #4, 24% of Russian-Belgium.be members have the right to participate in local elections, but not in federal or EU elections, that is, they are registered Belgian residents, but not yet citizens. Which means that we calculate the total of Russians in Belgium as 21655/0.24 or 90229.
However, #5 is more precise due to the bigger sample size, and it shows that there are 41% registered Belgian residents in Belgium that consider themselves Russians. A more precise estimation of the Russian population in Belgium is thus 52817 (21655/0.41).
By linear extrapoliation we may assume that 15020 received Belgian citizenship between 1999 and 2009. The peak of Russian immigration in Belgium was around 2000, and there were little Russian immigrants before 1996, which probably means that we should not look back in time any further. Given the percentage of Belgian citizens at Russian-Belgium.be, we may calculate the total number of Russians in Belgium as 15020/0.31 or 48451.
We thus evaluate the number of Russians in Belgium as being at least 50.000 ±2000.