Lesson plans for ages 15-18 in History: Population Displacement in the Commonwealth of Independent States


Uzbek refugees getting ready to leave Kyrgyzstan's Sasik camp for the capital, Bishkek. They are now safely in Romania.   © UNHCR

LESSONS 2 and 3: Migration within the CIS


A class set of atlases showing the former USSR, and a class set of the article "Population displacement in the former Soviet Union" are required.


Students read the article and answer the following comprehension questions.

Comprehension questions (the questions follow the internal order of the article)

  • The size of the USSR was so big that it spanned how many time zones?
  • The USSR was the world's largest multinational state, but basically, its people were divided into two main groups - Russians and non-Russians. During the time of its existence, there were tensions in the USSR, of two main types. What were they? (Much of the conflict that has occurred since the disintegration of the Soviet Union has been a manifestation of the tension between the non-Russians in the various states that made up the USSR.)
  • In the form of a table with five columns, list the forced population displacements that took place in the Soviet Union before and after the Second World War. In the first column, write down who the people were, put in the second column where the people originally came from, in the third column where the people were forced to migrate, in the fourth column the reason, if it is given in the article, why they moved, and finally in the fifth column, where the descendants have fled to during conflicts in the CIS. (Examples are scattered throughout the article.)
  • List the factors that contributed to the growing tensions between Russians living in non-Russian states and the local people.
    • a) Why did Kazaks riot in December 1986?
    • b) Find Nagorno-Karabakh on your map from lesson 1. Which ethnic group makes up the majority of the population? Who has had control of Nagorno-Karabakh since the 1920s? What is happening now in this area that is causing people to flee?
    • c) Who were the people who were driven out of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in 1989? Where did they originally come from?
  • Give reasons why there are border disputes between neighbouring states
  • The independent countries which emerged as a result of the disintegration of the USSR are themselves multi-ethnic states.
    • a) What does 'multi-ethnic' mean?
    • b) What needs to be done to avoid ethnic conflicts?
  • Over two million people have moved to Russia since 1989. List the reasons why the people moved.
  • The Russian authorities have divided these displaced people into two categories - 'forced migrants' ie. refugees, and economic migrants. What percentage of the people who have moved to Russia since 1989 have been recognised as refugees, and who are these people?