Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, tens of thousands of Russians have fled the country as a result of their anti-war, anti-Putin views. According to one estimate, their number could amount to 300,000 people. FRF collected data from recent surveys to map out exiles’ relocation routes, specify reasons for their emigration, and identify problems they are currently facing.
The grim reality is that these are mostly young, well-educated, successful professionals and creative workers who have liberal political views and were involved in political and civic activities in Russia. In other words, Russia is losing some of its brightest people—and this trend has been only growing over the last decade.
Moreover, the choice that these Russians have made by fleeing their homeland—whether it’s disapproval of the war in Ukraine, fear of repressions or the perception of the country’s bleak future—this choice has been costly. Many have encountered financial difficulties (due to Western sanctions, among other factors), most have arrived at their new destinations unprepared, with no clear plans for the future, and find themselves caught up in anxiety, frustration, anger, guilt, while only some feel relief and hope. It doesn’t help that, should they return to Russia, many anticipate losing their jobs, political persecutions, and overall sharp decline in quality of life.
The report was prepared by political analyst Vitaly Venediktov, MSc, and Reforum Coordinator Alexander Solovyev.