Staunton, October 12 – The Committee on Civic Initiatives’ report on emigration from Russia (komitetgi.ru/analytics/2977/) has attracted much attention for its findings that far more Russians have been leaving than Moscow says, that they are better educated and more skilled than those who remain, and that they are leaving for political as well as economic reasons.
But a fourth reason, Radio Liberty Tatar/Bashkir service commentator Artur Khaziyev says, has attracted less attention but is critical because it highlights the bind Russia’s regions and republics now find themselves in. If they promote development, given the limits Moscow imposes on them, they almost certainly will see more emigration (idelreal.org/a/28045373.html).
The CCI study found that “more people who are from regions with high macro-economic indicators are going abroad than those from subjects that are less developed economically,” Khaziyev says. The former have people with the skills businesses abroad want, and the regions and republics can do little about the social and political conditions that are pushing many out.
That puts republics like Tatarstan is a bind. They can if they have funds promote economic development and diversification, but because they cannot control the social and political situation – Moscow does that – they may lose their most talented people to emigration and thus as it were lose by winning, something that isn’t sustainable for long.
Educated specialists are the basis of long-term economic development, he continues, and it is far more difficult to attract them with money alone. “In order to attract them, one must solve those problems which are the causes for emigration. Otherwise, other countries where these problems have been solved will become more attractive for capable and talented people.
“In earlier centuries,” Khaziyev writes, “governments competed for natural resources and military-administrative control over markets.” But now, “the competition of states and regions for talented people and specialists who in turn are more mobile than ever before is becoming far more important.”
And that competition is taking place within countries as well as among them, something that is likely to go a long way in defining the broader political agenda of regions within the Russian Federation in the coming decades because they know they can’t afford to lose their best people and thereby their best hopes, whatever Moscow does.