Symbolic and social boundaries of the integration of Russian immigrants in Czechia
The integration of immigrants into Czech society is a key topic in the public debate as well as essentially a political issue. The most numerous groups, within a half-million migrant population, include Slovaks, Ukrainians, Vietnamese, and Russians. Such composition points out that Czechia is predominantly attractive to non-EU immigrants. This article focuses on the integration process of Russian immigrants into Czech society. Representing highly educated and financially well-secured migrants who come as entire families, the Russians are distinct from other Eastern European immigrants. However, various factors hinder their integration. The paper discusses the factors that shape symbolic and social boundaries in this integration process: (1) the development of Czech-Russian relationships that have been influenced by dramatic past events, (2) the representation of Russians in Czech media, (3) their specific socio-economic status, and (4) Czech immigration and integration policies. Negative experience, socio-economic inequalities, strict implementation of immigration policies towards third-country immigrants, and an unfavourable media discourse affect the attitudes of the majority toward the Russians and limit meaningful encounters.