chapter  15
Russia between Europe and Asia: Some Aspects of Russia's Asian Policy
Pages 3

One of Russia's problems is that of identity, or, to be more precise, how that identity is perceived by the outside world. Many consider Russia to be a European country, while others think it is a part of Asia. In September 1999, a poll conducted by Moscow radio revealed that 79 per cent of Russians consider Russia to be a European country, while 21 per cent identify themselves with Asia. This reflects the situation in which the majority of the population belongs, or considers itself as belonging, to the Slavs, who by language, culture and mentality belong to Europe. However, the European part of Russia is also inhabited by Tatars, the second largest nationality in Russia, as well as by Chyvashes, Bashkirs and many other nationalities which by their origin, culture and religion are Asian. In the Asian part of Russia, where only about 21 per cent of the Russian population live, the majority are Slavs, although the percentage of Asians is higher there than in the European part of the country.