According to figures provided by the Interior Ministry of the Russian Federation, more than 3 million Tajik citizens were officially registered in Russia last year.

In 2021, 2,439,198 Tajik nationals reportedly stated “work” as their reason for entering Russia; that is about one-quarter of Tajikistan’s entire population. 

It is a significant rise from previous years when the number of Tajiks working in Russia was reported at about 1.2 million.  While seasonal workers make up the majority of the migrants, a growing number of Tajiks are looking for permanent resettlement in Russia.

Radio Liberty reports that a Moscow-based migration lawyer, Botirjon Shermuhammad, says that more people from Central Asia’s nations will come to Russia “both for temporary work and permanent resettlement in the foreseeable future.” 

“Russia’s population is declining, and Central Asia is a major foreign source for its workforce, Shermuhammad was cited as saying.

Russia’s population shrank by nearly 1 million people in 2021, the largest peacetime decline ever. The stark drop was also linked to a high toll of COVID-19 deaths, according to Radio Liberty.

Labor migrants are a critical component in the economy of Tajikistan as remittances keep many struggling families at home above the poverty line.  

But Tajikistan is also slowly beginning to feel the downside of the migration -- a brain drain -- as skilled specialists leave the country, Radio Liberty says, noting that that Tajikistan doesn’t say how many medics or other skilled workers have left the country.

Thus, the Minister of Health and Social Protection of the Population Jamoliddin Abdullozoda told reporters in Dushanbe on February 10 that there was a shortage of 674 medical doctors in the country.  

Khatlon province reportedly lacks 120 physicians and districts subordinate to the center lack 128 physicians and nurses.

“Dushanbe now lacks 150 physicians and the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) lacks 11 physicians,” the minister said.

The minister said many health workers had left the country because some countries experiencing shortage of health workers offer beneficial programs to attract doctors.

The minister made this statement as many Tajik physicians have left for Russia for permanent residence.

An article by Farangis Najibullah entitled “Doctor Drain: 'Exodus' Of Tajiks To Russia Seen As Migration Laws Eased” posted on Radio Liberty’s website, in particular, says Farrukh and his wife, Saodat, left their jobs at a village hospital in Tajikistan’s northern Sughd province last summer and moved to Russia, taking advantage of a new government program that makes it easier for white-collar workers to live in the country and gain citizenship.

The couple, both doctors in their late 20s, now reportedly work at a district hospital in Russia’s Perm region, where the family has also been offered subsidized housing and financial aid.

The article notes that at about $1,200 a month each, their salary is nearly four times higher than what they earned in Tajikistan.

This trend is expected to continue upward, as unemployment and poverty in Tajikistan are many people to seek better employment opportunities elsewhere.

With Russia offering higher wages and better living standards, more Tajik health workers, teachers, and ordinary workers are likely to emigrate.  Many are expected to resettle in Russia permanently.

According to official Russian figures, 103,681 Tajik nationals obtained Russian citizenship last year.  It’s a significant rise from five years ago, when about 30,000 Tajiks received Russian passports.  Tajikistan allows dual Tajik-Russian citizenship.