Total population
30,000 (2013)
40,000 to 70,000 (2009)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Moscow, Astrakhan, Yekaterinburg
Russian · Abkhaz · Niger–Congo languages · Nilo-Saharan languages · English · French
Predominantly Christianity[2]

Afro-Russians (Russian: Афророссияне, romanizedAfrorossiyane) are people of African descent that have migrated to and settled in Russia. The Metis Foundation estimates that there were about 30,000 Afro-Russians in 2013.[3]


Representatives of African peoples in the Russian language have been commonly called negry.[4] The word negr comes from Spanish: negro (the color black in Spanish) through other European languages (German: Neger, French: nègre). In the Russian language the word does not carry a negative connotation[citation needed].

Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia (1672–1725), and his page-boy


Russian Empire

Bust of Abram Gannibal, Russian military engineer, general-in-chief, and nobleman
Yelena Khanga, famous Russian journalist and writer

There was never an observable number of people of African descent in Russia, even after Western European colonization of the continent. For centuries Russia was too isolated to interact with Africa. Russia's non-involvement in the colonization of Africa or the Atlantic slave trade prevented it from developing significant relationships with African tribes or colonies. Despite this, Abram Petrovich Gannibal, a Russian of princely African descent, became a general and nobleman in the Russian Empire. After being kidnapped from Logone (in contemporary Cameroon) by Ottoman forces as a boy, he was sold to Russian diplomat Fedor Golovin[5] in 1704 and gifted to Tsar Peter the Great, who freed and adopted him.[5][6] As an adult, he rose to nobility, and served the Russian Empire in both civil and military capacities.[6] He is also a maternal great-grandfather to the famed Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.[5]

Early Soviet period

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After the revolution several African-American families came to the Soviet Union under the auspices of the Comintern. Among them were Oliver John Golden and his wife Bertha Bialek, bringing with them a group of 16 African-American experts in the cultivation of cotton; well-known African-American poet Langston Hughes with a group of 22 filmmakers; Paul Robeson with his family; and many others. Some of them stayed in Russia and their descendants still live there.[citation needed]

Post-War, the Festival Children

When African nations gained independence from colonialism, the Soviet Union offered scholarships to young people from these nations. About 400,000 Africans studied in the former Soviet Union between the late 1950s and 1990.[7] The first significant arrival of Africans was for the 6th World Festival of Youth and Students held in Moscow in 1957. The mixed race African descended children were called festival children because of their appearance, timing of their birth, and lack of a father figure.[citation needed] Many Africans also attended the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia.

Notable Afro-Russians

Ivan Gannibal, Russian military leader
Coretti Arle-Titz, singer, dancer, and actress in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union

Social movements

Afro-Russian social movements have emerged in recent years as a response to the discrimination and marginalization experienced by people of Russian-African descent.

The Sputnik Association is a social movement founded in London, UK in 2006 by a group of Russian emigrants and Afro-Russian people. The association was created to provide a platform for Russian emigrants and mixed-race Russian people living abroad to connect and celebrate their shared cultural heritage.[15][16]

See also


  1. ^ O'Flynn, Kevin (7 July 2009). "Russia's Black Community And The Obama Effect". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 15 March 2023.
  2. ^ Mitrofanova, Anastasia (22 January 2024). "Russian ethnic nationalism and religion today". The New Russian Nationalism. pp. 104–131. ISBN 978-1-4744-1042-7. JSTOR 10.3366/j.ctt1bh2kk5.11.
  3. ^ Gribanova, Lyubov "Дети-метисы в России: свои среди чужих" Archived 4 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine (in Russian). Nashi Deti Project. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
  4. ^ "Негры". Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary: In 86 Volumes (82 Volumes and 4 Additional Volumes). St. Petersburg. 1890–1907.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link);
    Negr Archived 24 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine // Dictionary of the Russian Language (Ozhegov): (first edition 1949, the reference to the edition of 1992 together with Natalia Shvedova).
  5. ^ a b c Grinberg, Miriam (2009). "Pushkin and Gannibal: Ethnic Identity in Imperial Russia". The Gettysburg Historical Journal. 8: 61.
  6. ^ a b Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy; Nicole Svobodny; Ludmilla A. Trigos (2006). Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and Blackness. Northwestern University Press. pp. 31, 47–49, 56, 63, 74. ISBN 0810119714.
  7. ^ Lily Golden & Lily Dixon "TV project 'Black Russians'". Africana Project. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
  8. ^ Timur Ganeev (17 April 2012). "Russia's Olympic team becomes more diverse". Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  9. ^ "Ганнибал Иван Абрамович – Личности". (in Russian). Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  10. ^ I support Kenyans by the call of my blood
  11. ^ Eric Foner, "Three Very Rare Generations" (review of Soul to Soul), The New York Times, 13 December 1992.
  12. ^ Лебамбу ноги кормят
  13. ^ Narizhnaya, Kristina. "A Russian milestone: 1st black elected to office – World news – Europe –". MSNBC. Archived from the original on 27 July 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
  14. ^ "Der erste schwarze Stadtrat Russlands – News Ausland: Europa". 29 July 2010. Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  15. ^ "Sputnik Association of Russian-Speaking Women UK - Home". Retrieved 15 March 2023.
  16. ^ "Великобритания: кто протянет руку помощи эмигранту?". Retrieved 15 March 2023.