On April 4, the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VCIOM) presented the results of an annual survey on Russian emigration sentiment. The poll was conducted three weeks after the start of the military operation in Ukraine; Against the background of the departure of Russians abroad, frightened by the start of hostilities and the country’s international isolation, its results look mixed. According to VTsIOM, the number of Russians who do not want to emigrate has increased from 81% to 88% compared to last year, and the number of those who would like to leave, on the contrary, decreased from 16% to 10%. Both VTsIOM and third-party experts are reluctant to compare the results of the survey with the number of Russians who have already emigrated. According to them, the mood of Russians has really changed: many believe that they are not expected abroad, are afraid of financial problems and difficulties with logistics, as well as experiencing a syndrome of “besieged fortress”.
The number of Russians who do not want to move abroad in 2022 increased by 7 percentage points compared to last year and reached one of the highest values in 12 years, according to a poll by VTsIOM on migration sentiment (the center conducts similar measurements annually since 2011).
- 88% of respondents rather do not want to go abroad for permanent residence.
- 10% of respondents would prefer to emigrate, 2% found it difficult to answer.
- At the same time, men are more likely to change their country of residence more than twice as often as women – 14% vs. 6%.
- Among the most popular answers to the question why people emigrate are earnings or improving their financial situation (29%), easy life (24%) and the future of children (17%).
A significant increase in those wishing to emigrate was observed in 2019, when 17% of respondents would rather leave. It should be noted that a year earlier only 10% of respondents showed such readiness. In 2019, there was a maximum reduction in those wishing to stay – they were 81%. These ratios have changed little over the next two years, but now the figures have returned to 2018.
The current poll was conducted on March 16, three weeks after the start of Russia’s special operation in Ukraine. Since the beginning of hostilities, many citizens have left Russia at least temporarily, including a number of businessmen, philanthropists, cultural figures and show business people. There are no exact data on the number of people leaving Russia since February 24. VTsIOM does not connect this departure with the growth of the number of those wishing to stay. Adviser to the General Director of VTsIOM Elena Mikhailova notes that compared to more stable periods, the motivation of those declaring readiness to move has changed: today Russians do not have the most favorable situation for integration abroad both financially and due to increased competition from migrants from Ukraine labor. Ms. Mikhailova notes that the departing people are motivated by different motives: demonstration of attitude to the policy of the Russian authorities, emotional rejection of the chosen strategy, fears of rumors of universal mobilization, the desire to save their business and capital, etc.
“After leaving our country, many representatives of these categories are waiting,” said the adviser to the director general of VTsIOM. “But the period of stay in foreign countries is limited by law. Decisions and long-term strategies of the departed will depend on how the situation in Russia develops. “
According to political scientist Alexei Makarkin, several tens of thousands of citizens have recently left the country, and this is not enough to influence the results of opinion polls: Famous, status people are leaving. Well-known and active people can also really think about emigration. Even if it is hundreds of thousands, it will not affect public opinion in the context of the country. ” According to Mr. Makarkin, those who declare their desire to leave in opinion polls often, on the contrary, stay in Russia: leaving is more of a dream for them, a desire related to economic grounds, the prospect of self-expression and self-realization. “Now these people are shocked to feel that they are not expected there,” explains Mr. Makarkin. According to him, emigration sentiment will not increase in the near future, but this will not hinder the growth of real emigration, and the consequences can be assessed only years later – as “philosophical steamers” of the 1920s, which “Greater Russia did not notice” entering the NEP. and talked about them only in the 1980s.
Ekaterina Kurbangaleeva, director of the Special Opinion Research Center, sees several explanations for the decline in the share of respondents who want to leave. “As a rule, a person answers the question on the current situation,” she says. “Today, most respondents believe that no one is waiting for Russian people abroad. Many materials and publications in the official media are devoted to manifestations of Russophobia in some countries. The psychology of the besieged fortress works. ” For most citizens, departure is hampered by a lack of funds and logistical opportunities, adds Ekaterina Kurbangaleeva. She believes that the results of the polls are also influenced by the nature of the sample, which is “becoming more and more loyal” – this leads to an increase in the share of socially acceptable answers, especially in the telephone survey.