Top Professionals and Leading Businessmen Flee Russia

Picture from the Russian website, devoted to the topics of visa processing, emigration, relocation and life in other countries.

Picture from the Russian website, devoted to the topics of visa processing, emigration, relocation and life in other countries.

by Slava Tsukerman

The outflow of scientists and highly qualified specialists from Russia has accelerated by five times over the past nine years. This was announced on April 20, 2021 by the Chief Scientific Secretary of the Russian Academy of Sciences Nikolai Dolgushkin during the General Meeting of the Academy.

According to him, the massive departure of scientific personnel to work abroad “plays an important role” in the catastrophic reduction in the number of researchers in Russia.

If in 2012, fourteen thousand scientists left Russia, now 70,000 scientists are leaving the country every year.

The Russian official news agency TASS quoted Dolgushkin as saying: “Russia is the only developed country where the number of scientists has been decreasing for several decades in a row.”

Since 1990, the number of Russian researchers has decreased from 992,000 to 348,000. “That is 65%, we have lost two-thirds of our researchers in three decades,” the scientist said.

According to the World Bank, Russia ranks first in the Europe and Central Asia region in terms of the absolute number of citizens who emigrated abroad.

In 2017, according to the bank, 10.6 million Russians left the country to work abroad. This is more than the number of people who left Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova combined.

In relative terms, the loss is 7.4% of the population (144 million people). If we exclude pensioners (35 million people) from the calculations, then the country has lost 9.7% of the current number of working-age citizens and children.

The relative indicators of Russia are significantly better than those of other countries of Eastern Europe, follows from the World Bank data: for example, 24% of citizens emigrated from Moldova, 21.9% of citizens from Croatia, 20.9% from Lithuania, 18.2% from Romania.

The overall balance of migration flows for the Russian Federation is altogether positive: the number of arrivals (8% of the population) per million people exceeds the number of departures.

However, there is a significant difference between emigrants and immigrants: mainly low-skilled workers from the Central Asian republics come to Russia. Among them, only 13-17% have higher education.

On the other hand, there is “intellectual migration” from Russia: 70% of those who leave have a higher education, which is much higher than the average level in the country.

A survey by the Boston Consulting Group, which was attended by 24 thousand respondents, showed that 50% of Russian scientists, 52% of top managers, 54% of IT specialists want to work abroad. 49% of engineering workers and 46% of doctors are ready to join them.

Almost two-thirds of potential expats (65%) are digital talent: artificial intelligence specialists, scrum masters, user interface designers, etc.

Fifty-seven percent of them are young people under the age of 30. Among students (under 21) the share is even higher and reaches 59%.

Among the developed countries, Russian specialists generally prefer Germany: 11.84% of emigrants go there. Another 7.25% leave the Russian Federation in the direction of Israel, 2.07% go to Switzerland.

According to the popular Russian website “Republic”:

“Now about 11 million emigrants from Russia live abroad. This puts our country in third place in terms of the number of emigrants after India (18 million) and Mexico (11.2 million). But if India and Mexico supply foreign labor markets mainly with low-skilled labor, businessmen, young scientists and advanced specialists are the first to leave Russia. Many of them are freedom-loving people of liberal views and make the final decision to emigrate after another political upheaval.”

The article suggests do not trust official Russian statistics about emigration.
According to the article, much more accurate source is data from foreign statistical agencies on the origin of immigrants. The numbers may differ by an order of magnitude. So, according to Eurostat, in 2019 seventy-five thousand seven hundred Russians moved to the EU, and according to official Rosstat statistics – only 7,300.

In 2019, journalists of the website “Project” calculated that Rosstat’s data on how many Russians left for a particular country and the corresponding data from the migration departments of this country differ on average six times.

In 2020, according to Eurostat, Russia was in 9th place in terms of the number of emigrants to European countries – 76 thousand Russians received a residence permit in the EU. 25 thousand of them moved for family reasons, 12.7 thousand – to study, another 19 thousand – to work; the rest indicated other reasons.

Website reports that “according to the preliminary results of “coronavirus” migration for January – November 2020, which Rosstat summed up, almost 440,000 Russian people went abroad during the pandemic.”

“In fact, it is rather difficult to assess the real picture of the departure of Russians for permanent residence,” noted to Elena Egorova, head of the laboratory Quantitative Methods for Researching Regional Development.

“According to various sources, in 2020 from 60,000 to 300,000 people left Russia,” she said.

She thinks, that the first difficulty of such an assessment is that in any country in the world, migrants cannot immediately obtain even a residence permit, let alone citizenship. It takes years.

The second is that official statistics do not show the real scale of emigration. Rosstat draws conclusions based on the registration of a person at the place of residence or stay.

“A Russian who left the country but did not register his departure is not officially considered an emigrant. Often, such people keep Russian passports and live in another country with a residence permit, which gives practically the same rights as residents,” explained Ravil Asmyatullin, a lecturer at the Institute of World Economy and Business.

In December 2019, the independent Russian Levada Center conducted the latest monitoring of the emigration sentiments of Russians. According to the study, one in five dreamed of leaving Russia at that time. Most of the potential emigrants were among young people – in the category from 18 to 24 years old. 53% of the respondents desired to move to another country. At the same time, only 7% of respondents did something to move.

A similar picture is drawn by a study by the official VTsIOM (Russian Public Opinion Research Center) conducted in the summer of 2020. Then 18% of Russians said they wanted to leave Russia. Most of these turned out to be among people 18-24 years old – 38%. VTsIOM also asked questions about the reasons for the desire to move. Exactly half said that they were dissatisfied with their earnings or pension; in second place was dissatisfaction with the political situation – it was named as the reason by 22% of potential emigrants.

Russian Internet provides a lot of websites helping Russians to emigrate.
A website informs:

“The website traffic is more than 2,650,000 people per month (an average of 89,744 people per day), and it is constantly growing. Our site is highly specialized – all materials are devoted to the topics of visa processing, emigration, relocation and life in other countries.

“Visitors to our website are solvent adults capable to pay for advertising. 2,500,000 people every month are guaranteed to see your ad on the site.”