Saturday, October 16, 2021

Only One Russian Émigré in 25 Plans to Return to Russia, New Survey Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 10 – The Kremlin has announced that it wants 500,000 of the four to five million Russians who have left the country since Vladimir Putin became president to return by 2030 ( But a new survey finds that only four percent – one in 25 of the total – have any plans to do so.

            At the same time, 26 percent more of this sampling of 900 emigres say they don’t reject the possibility of doing so, while 70 percent say that most likely they will never return, according to a survey conducted in August of this year by the To Be Exact portal (

            Both those who conducted the survey and other experts caution against putting too much weight in it both because it is difficult to define a representative sample when even the total number of emigres is difficult to define. Moscow lists as emigres only those who drop their registration in Russia, something many emigres do not both to do.

            But the organizers of the survey say that the best estimates of the total number of emigres from Russia between 2000 and 2020 is between four and five million. They note that approximately half of these have moved to CIS countries, and half to countries beyond the former Soviet borders.

            Initially, they report, Russians moved primarily to the West, but since 2014, they have moved to former Soviet republics instead. Before emigration, half lived in Moscow, and another 14 percent in St. Petersburg, an origin that suggests the two capitals are stepping stones to emigration and that defines how the emigres view themselves and their country.

            “Almost all those who left continue to follow events in their motherland and apparently to be affected by them. But real ties are practically broken,” the researchers say. Most emigres are focused on building a life in their new countries. “Only six percent receive money from sources in Russia,” and before the pandemic, 70 percent didn’t go home more than once a year.

            Eighty-four percent of the sample say that “Russia is developing in the wrong direction,” but ten percent say that it is going in the right one.


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