As a result of the war with Ukraine, up to a million Russians have left their country since last February. The outflow includes people who opposed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rising authoritarianism, as well as those seeking to preserve their livelihoods or escape sanctions. A military mobilization that occurred in the autumn spurred hundreds of thousands of men to flee. The huge exodus has created and increased Russian expatriate communities around the world.
The departure of so many people could redefine the country for generations, and the outflow may still be in its early stages. Any new conscription effort by the Kremlin will prompt new departures, and worsening economic conditions are expected as the conflict drags on. There has also been talk in parliament of punishing Russians who left by stripping them of their assets at home. Putin has referred to these people as “scum,” and said their leaving would “cleanse” the country.
Many of the Russians who left their country found refuge in countries such as Armenia and Kazakhstan, where Russian is the second language and there is no social stigma for Russian immigrants. Some sought out expensive destinations such as Dubai, where business opportunities are available. Washington Post journalists traveled to Yerevan and Dubai to find out how Russian emigres are faring and to ask if they ever plan to return. Many families have adapted to life in Armenia seamlessly and have established new schools, bars, cafes, and strong support networks. However, some countries have blocked arrivals by imposing entry limitation or denying new visas, causing panic among Russians already abroad.
Read more at the Washington Post.