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Russia seeks to lure back ethnic Germans.


Russian news agency Interfax reported this week that Moscow will spend over 80 million euros ($110 million) by 2012 to entice back former citizens of German descent who have immigrated to Germany as well as to stem the further westward flight of its ethnic German minority. The money is to be mainly invested in industrial centers in Western Siberia and the Volga region.

German immigrants were invited to Russia during the 18th century by Czarina Catherine the Great, herself a German princess. Oppressed during the Soviet era, their descendants were sent into forced exile to Kazakhstan and other remote areas by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, some 2.3 million of them had come to Germany by 2005, drawn by nearly automatic citizenship offered by Berlin and a desire to get to know their roots. Ethnic German emigrants from Russia make up the largest group of the 4.5 million people with ethnic German heritage who migrated to Germany.

Russia’s efforts to help the social and economic development of its remaining and dwindling ethnic German community — 600,000, according to official figures — have been welcomed by Berlin. Over the past years, President Vladimir Putin’s administration, aided by generous financial backing from the German government, has launched a number of programs towards that purpose.

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