Staunton, April 20 – Since 2012, the annual exodus of Russian scholars has increased 500 percent, from 14,000 in that year to 70,000 now, according to Nikolay Dolgushkin, the academic secretary of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Their departure is “playing far from the last role” in the reduction of researchers in Russia, he says.
This exodus (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/begstvo-uchenykh-iz-rossii-uskorilos-v-5-raz-1030325000) is part of a larger exodus of Russian from their country to study or work abroad. In 2017, 10.6 million Russians left for work, a figure “larger than the number of those who left Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova taken together.”
The balance of emigration and immigration in Russia’s case remains positive, officials say, but those leaving typically are far better educated than those arriving, and those in Russia with higher educations are far more likely to say they want to leave than other groups (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/polovina-rossiyskikh-uchenykh-zayavili-o-zhelanii-emigrirovat-1027322119).
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov sought to play this report down, suggesting that arrivals and departures of scholars is something “absolutely normal” and insisting that “there is absolutely nothing” tragic in this situation (nauka.tass.ru/nauka/11217161). But he did not comment on two other trends which make the departure of scholars even more serious.
On the one hand, as the president of the Academy of Sciences pointed out, scholarship is losing out as a prestige occupation and the number of graduate students in Russia fell from 157,000 in 2010 to 84,000 in 2019, something that means there will be fewer replacements for any Russian scholars who do decide to work abroad (rbc.ru/society/20/04/2021/607ebbb09a79472b4c17838e).
And on the other hand, for the first time since the case of Andrey Sakharov at the end of Soviet times, Moscow has arrested an academician, Yefim Khasanov, the deputy director of the Institute of Applied Physics, and for an equally political reason: Khasanov has reposted statements by Aleksey Navalny and Leonid Volkov and signed appeals to Vladimir Putin (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=60802B497F1EB).