Staunton, Mar. 22 – Some 200,000 people have left the Russian Federation to live in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Georgia since the start of this year in response to increasing repression at home and Putin’s war in Ukraine, according to Olga Gulina, a migration specialist for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
Most of these are young and highly qualified professionals, whose loss Russia will feel increasingly severely in the future, she says, and they have moved to these countries because there are few obstacles to Russian citizens who want to enter (cabar.asia/ru/migratsiya-naoborot-kak-segodnyashnyaya-rossiya-stanovyatsya-stranoj-postavshhikom-migrantov-v-strany-evrazii).
At the same time, many are taking their businesses with them, depriving Russia of those as well. In the first half of March, for example, 250 representatives of such companies contacted the Armenian government for assistance in setting up shop more or less permanently in that South Caucasus country.
Gulina says that “the countries of the Eurasian Union are an ideal option for emigration from Russia. First, with the exception of Georgia, they are neutral on the war in Ukraine. Second, they aren’t on the Russia’s list of unfriendly countries and so can keep their property in Russia.
Third, all these countries have liberal migration regimes as far as citizens of the Russian Federation are concerned. And fourth, and perhaps especially important, the migration expert continues, “moving to the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus doesn’t require special cultural or linguistic adaption by Russian citizens” as Russian is still widely used.
Most of those leaving Russia today should be classified as “expats, not refugees.” While many feel they have been forced, most have had a choice, albeit not always a good one. “These people have no desire to return to today’s Russia,” Gulina concludes; “but crucially, they have the legal right to do so if they so desire.”