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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Almost Half of Russians who have Moved Abroad Since Start of Putin’s War in Ukraine are IT Professionals, New Study Finds


Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 30 – More than 45 percent of Russians who have moved abroad since Putin launched his expanded invasion of Ukraine on February 24 are people connected with the information technology sector, according to Margarita Zavadskaya, a Helsinki scholar who is part of the OK Russians project (research-march.okrussians.org/).

            She says that cultural figures, teachers, and office workers form roughly 15 percent each, and journalists who have attracted perhaps more attention because they write about themselves account for eight percent (meduza.io/feature/2022/07/31/chem-nyneshnyaya-volna-emigratsii-otlichaetsya-ot-drugih-predstaviteli-kakih-professiy-uehali-sobirayutsya-li-migranty-vernutsya).

            In every case, the share of these groups leaving is far higher than their share in the Russian population and highlights both the fact that emigration now is an upper middle class phenomenon, Zavadskaya says; and that it is hitting Russia hard in certain areas while leaving others untouched.

            She acknowledges that these figures and others she offers are not as representative as researchers would like but argues that they are the best available and suggestive of what the latest outmigration from Russia is like, how it differs from previous waves, and what impact it will have on Russia itself.

            Zavadskaya points out that the median age of the respondents of this survey was 32, far lower than the median age in Russia which is 46. Moreover, those leaving were less likely to be married than Russians as a whole, 39 percent against 51 percent, and also far less likely to have or want children.

            But what is most striking, she says, is the attitudes migrants have to one another. Unlike most Russians, they show a high degree of trust and a readiness to cooperate. They are also very political, even those whose professions are far from politics. And they are conscious of the large size of their community.

            Regarding their future, the Helsinki-based Russian scholar says, “if one believes the information from the open part of the investigation, then these people are waiting for regime change. This is not a specific date” but rather one connected with the departure of Vladimir Putin from power.

            But many who have moved abroad doubt that Russia will change even after Putin leaves the scene. Zavadskaya says that “70 percent of the respondents in this poll do not believe that the political situation in the country can change for the better” even then. If they are right, then they are unlikely to return even after Putin goes.

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