Staunton, Mar. 11 – Many Russians are furious at their fellow citizens who have left Russia because of their opposition to Putin’s war in Ukraine, and some have gone so far as to suggest that laws should be changed so that anyone who has emigrated since the start of the war should be banned from returning to Russia at any point in the future.
While many are inclined to call such people traitors, most don’t go as far as that. Instead, they argue that such people should they return must be shunned, deprived of their livelihood by being shunned by their former employers and audiences (ura.news/news/1052537095 and trtrussian.com/magazine/kak-reagiruyut-rossiyane-na-otuezd-liderov-mnenij-8211941).
There are no polls to suggest how widespread such attitudes are, but the greatest anger among Russians seems to be focusing on those in the entertainment business who, many feel, are emigrating more for their own convenience and well-being than because of any principled position, some suggest.
And indeed, there seems to be more popular understanding among Russians who are angry about those who leave in the news media or politics who really are at risk of the loss of their livelihoods or even their freedom before they go than there is for celebrities who face no such problems.
What makes such attitudes so critical to follow is that the right to travel freely abroad has long been one of the most precious acquisitions by Russians since the fall of communism; and consequently, any suggestion that those who leave should not be allowed back could mark the beginning of a campaign to restrict foreign travel in Soviet-style ways.
Should that happen, the consequences would be enormous: Those angry at the Kremlin would not have the option of leaving; and they would thus be forced to stand and fight at home or come to terms with the powers that be. Either would raise the political temperature in Russia and present the Kremlin with new challenges to its rule.
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