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Putin’s big brain drain: tens of thousands of well-educated Russians on the run

Putin’s great brain drain
Tens of thousands of well-educated Russians on the run

After all, Russia’s President Putin has already achieved one thing: since partial mobilization was announced a week ago, tens of thousands of his compatriots have been fleeing the country. According to information from London, this could be more Russians than invaded Ukraine in February.

The Russian partial mobilization is obviously not going according to plan. Since its announcement by President Vladimir Putin a week ago, there has been a significant exodus of Russians seeking to evade conscription. Like the British Ministry of Defense on Twitter writeswhile the exact numbers are unclear, “they probably exceed the size of the entire invasion force that Russia fielded in February 2022”.

According to the ministry, “the wealthy and well-educated” are over-represented among the refugees. The consequences could be devastating for Russia’s economy: “Together with the reservists who are being mobilized, the effects of the reduced availability of workers and the accelerated brain drain on the Russian economy are likely to become increasingly important.”

The Internet portal of the newspaper “Novaya Gazeta”, which is now banned in Russia and is critical of the Kremlin, reported, citing sources in the presidential administration, that more than 260,000 Russians had already left the country by Sunday. The number is likely to be significantly higher now. According to estimates, Moscow had deployed around 150,000 soldiers on the border with the neighboring country before the deployment.

Escape to neighboring countries

Since it was announced, the partial mobilization has led to protests and a mass exodus from Russia. Those who do not have papers to enter the EU – and that is the majority of Russians – flee to visa-free countries such as the former Soviet Republic of Armenia or Turkey. However, many destinations – even those that are further away – have not been accessible for days because there are no flights or the others are hardly affordable with tens of thousands of euros.

The Russian authorities have also reacted to the exodus: For example, they restricted access to a region on the border with Georgia. The leader of Russia’s North Ossetia region, Sergei Meniajlo, signed a decree restricting passage of passenger vehicles through the region, except for locals and tourists. The authorities also set up a “mobile” recruitment office on the border with Georgia to intercept those trying to evade conscription by the army.


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