Monday, December 4, 2023

‘Majority of Those Who have Left Putin’s Russia Because of War Won’t Return,’ Zavadskaya Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 1 – Although many Russian officials and pro-Kremlin commentators claim that most Russians who have moved abroad since the start of the expanded war in Ukraine will return, Margarita Zavadskaya says that is not the case and that “the majority of those who have left won’t be coming back.”

            The Russian political scientist who now works at the Finnish Institute of International Studies in Helsinki says that her surveys, which she acknowledges are perhaps as unrepresentative as those who claim the contrary, make it clear that most who have left won’t go back (

            Zavadskaya says that she sees four categories of people who have left Russia since February 2022 and that it is on the basis of these divisions that she believes that few now living abroad are likely to return, especially as Moscow adopts an ever more critical position regarding them.

The first category are those who do not see a future for themselves in Russia or that Russia itself has a future. The second, who form about 50 percent of all who have left, define themselves as “Russians in exile” and consider a return to Russia as improbable. The third includes digital nomads who can work anywhere and consider themselves citizens of the world.

And the fourth, the smallest which she believes constitute only 15 to 17 percent of all Russians who have moved abroad, still feel attached to Russia and focus on Russian politics more or less constantly. Only they are likely to return but only when the situation fundamentally changes, Zavadskaya argues.

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