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Concerns about an imagined Russian invasion meant that the earliest Russian immigrants were met with antagonism, but numbers increased after 1901. Those who came to Melbourne from what was to become the USSR were a diverse group, including traders who had settled in East Asia. After the Trans-Siberian Railway was completed in 1903, experienced railway technicians settled near the Newport Railway Workshops and helped build local railways. Other groups included Jews escaping persecution, exiles from Tsarist Russia, White Russians fleeing the communists and many others leaving for economic, political or religious reasons. A large number came from Manchuria and Shanghai after the communist victory in China. Postwar immigration saw the number of USSR-born, many of them displaced persons, peak in the 1950s, with numbers again rising after 1986. Prominent Russians include artist Danila Vassilieff and Alex Chernov QC, president of the Australian Bar Council and chairman of the Bar Council of Victoria 1985-86. The Soviet contingent has been a regular feature of the annual Anzac Day parades. Russians have spread throughout Melbourne with Orthodox congregations in Collingwood, Dandenong, Oak Park, St Albans, South Yarra and the striking golden-domed church by Merri Creek in Albion Street, Brunswick. By the end of the 20th century, 96% of the 5600 or so Victorians born in the Russian Federation lived in Melbourne, along with around a further 3000 from the republics that were part of the former USSR. Over 30% of Melbourne's Russians observe Judaism, with many Russian Jews living in St Kilda and Caulfield.

Justin Corfield