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Vietnamese people in Russia form the 72nd-largest ethnic minority community in Russia according to the 2002 census. With only 26,205 individuals, they are one of the smaller groups of overseas Vietnamese.16 However, unofficial estimates put their population as high as 100,000 to 150,000.7 Almost two-thirds reside in Moscow, concentrated in the southern part of the city, near the Akademicheskaya Metro station, where authorities have erected a statue of Ho Chi Minh.18 Other large communities can be found in Vladivostok and Saint Petersburg, though the community in Moscow is the most well-established and has the highest proportion of long-term residents (those who have been living there for more than 5 years).2 Assessments of their proficiency in the Russian language vary as well; the Census recorded that roughly 80% could speak Russian, while one article in Vietnamese state-run media claimed that "many Vietnamese find it unnecessary to learn Russian. In fact, many hardly speak the language at all."13 The Census also recorded that virtually all can speak Vietnamese.9
Most Vietnamese people in Russia are entrepreneurs in the retail industry; with Russia's 2007 reform of rules for retail markets, which put restrictions on the proportion of immigrant-owned shops and require Russian-language proficiency examinations as a condition of being granted a work permit and a business licence, many Vietnamese will have to close their businesses and find other lines of work, probably as manual labourers.3 Students also form another important group; Ho Chi Minh himself studied in Moscow in the 1920s, along with other senior members of the Communist Party of Vietnam.10 They were followed by an estimated total of 50,000 Vietnamese who studied in Russia during the Cold War.11 Academic exchange between the two countries continued even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union; as of 2006[update], roughly 4,000 Vietnamese students were studying in Russian universities; the Russian government provides scholarships to 160 of them.12 Notable Vietnamese students who have studied in Russia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union include Quynh Nguyen, a pianist from Hanoi who received a scholarshop to Moscow's Gnessin State Musical College.13