Increasing numbers of citizens from the eastern and southern regions of the USSR sought and obtained residence in the 'two capitals' of Leningrad and Moscow following the Second World War. This article exposes the uniqueness of late Soviet periphery to core migration, all the while placing it within a global post-colonial framework. Soviet policies that promoted the 'friendship of peoples' spared migrants from the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Asian regions of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic the ethnic violence and ghettoization that accompanied parallel movements to Western industrial capitals. Most appreciated the opportunities that awaited them, even as social spending on the periphery forestalled substantial economic migration. This paper argues nonetheless that subtle tensions existed on official and unofficial levels. Oral histories as well as sociological surveys demonstrate that nationalist and racist ideas and encounters challenged the friendship of peoples. Migration emerges as a complex and personal process as Asian residents of Leningrad and Moscow weighed possibilities, benefits, and risks of integration or separation.