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REUTERS / Irakli Gedenidze

Country Reports

Escape from Russia

by Dr. Thomas Kunze, Stefanie Franzl, Leonid Syrota

The Russian war of aggression on Ukraine is also a turning point in Russia, as more and more people are leaving the country.

The 24th of February 2022 also marks a turning point in Russian society. Over one million people may have already left the country. The exodus movements have different characteristics and can be divided into different groups. The waves of emigration from Russia pose fundamental questions for European states about how to deal with Russian conscientious objectors. In other parts of the world, such as Central Asia, the waves of emigrants are initially raising economic hopes. Contrary to fears, Russia has not (yet) closed its borders. As a rule, citizens are still able to leave the country. In the current situation, the Russian government seems to see an advantage in critical voices and protest potential leaving Russia. The tone for dealing with exiles is set by former President Dmitry Medvedev, Putin's deputy on the National Security Council: "Traitors who hate their country so much that they call for its defeat must be considered enemies of the state. (...) Such people should not be allowed to return to Russia for the rest of their lives. (...) Their return home can only take place in the case of clear public repentance and through amnesty or pardon. Although it would be better for them not to return."

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Dr. Thomas Kunze


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