The Russians left in a hurry when they were punished and Putin brought them down for dissenting over the Ukraine war

One man, worried that he would soon be unable to buy insulin for his wife, loaded two suitcases of medicine, two more suitcases of clothes, and traveled with his partner to Germany with his daughter.

Another left soon after burying his mother, seeking to settle in Israel, saying he felt suffocated by war propaganda. A woman caught in an anti-war march quickly packed up her things and flew to Armenia with her young son.

Julia Zakharova and Constantine Giannoukos, on the Vaalimaa border between Finland and Russia, plan to move to Greece.

A Russian who arrived in Finland on Monday said that after his train crossed the border, a passenger near him shouted “Glory to Ukraine!”

Harsh sanctions, growing isolation and fear of President Vladimir Putin’s increasingly repressive regime are driving thousands of Russians out of their country. While these numbers pale in comparison to the two million people who have already left Ukraine, they could be the frontier of a wave of people leaving due to shrinking political freedom and economic hardship. Many of the departed were professionals and well-to-do Russians, along with journalists, activists and cultural figures.

“My father said, ‘Leave, leave, leave, you could be stuck here,’” Julia Zakharova, a 36-year-old employee of an American company, said Tuesday minutes after crossing the Finnish border. with Russia. For years, she and her Greek husband, the chief executive officer of a tech startup, have been traveling by plane between Russia and Greece, but they decide to move to Greece in the near future. , partly because she is 7 months pregnant.

“I wouldn’t give birth in Russia with a scenario like this,” Zakharova said.

Exact data on the number of Russian nationals who have left in recent weeks is not available and it is not clear that all border crossings will stay away for long. However, data shared by different countries shows the number in the thousands.

About 44,000 people crossed the Russian border into Finland in February, up from about 27,000 in the same month last year, according to the Finnish Border Force. Bus and train tickets to Finland are already sold out, and Finnish state railway operator VR says it will try to add more trains to its Helsinki-St. Petersburg connection.

Some have left Russia for countries like Turkey, Georgia and Armenia, which either allow Russians to enter visa-free or have relaxed entry requirements.

Georgia’s Economy Minister said between 20,000 and 25,000 Russians have entered the country in recent days. Neta Briskin-Peleg, an immigration official, told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper on Tuesday that Israel has issued 1,400 immigrant visas to Russians since invading Ukraine.

The chances of leaving Russia are rapidly shrinking. Russia has responded to airspace bans restricting access by airlines including those from the European Union, UK and Canada. Following sanctions targeting Russia’s aviation sector, leased Russian planes have been stored at airports outside the country. Major Russian airlines have suspended international flights, while Moscow’s Aeroflot has suspended all flights abroad except for Belarus.

Some Russians fear that Mr. Putin could soon declare martial law, which would allow him to further expand censorship and close borders. Putin said on Saturday there was no need to declare martial law.

An actress and director from St.Petersburg, who was arrested during an anti-war protest a few days after the Russian invasion, rushed to buy a plane ticket to Armenia for herself and her 5-year-old son after she was released.

She said she waited at the airport for 16 hours for a flight full of Russian families. When she arrived at Yerevan, she learned that a police officer had visited her address in St.Petersburg. She is worried about returning to Russia but said she only has enough money to go to the Armenian capital for a month or two.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said.

Mr. Putin has long sought to silence critics, but pressure increased last week when Russia’s parliament passed a law that would impose a prison sentence of up to 15 years for knowingly spreading “fake news”. “about the army.

Evan Sergeyev, who is traveling with his wife and their 5-year-old son to Barcelona to be with friends for an indefinite period, said: “We are forbidden to even call it a war. Mr Putin said his invasion of Ukraine was a “special operation”.

On the messaging app Telegram, Russians exchange logistical details about visa shopping and Covid-19 testing requirements and ticket availability.

The emigration of educated, liberal Russians threatening the country’s long-term development in a brain drain is not the first time in Russia. When the Soviet Union opened up to greater Jewish immigration in the 1970s, many scientists, engineers, and doctors left for Israel and the West.

After a spate of Western sanctions hit Russia recently in response to Mr Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a Russian man in his 50s who said he worked for an American company was nervously looking at Russia. drugs disappeared from store shelves in Moscow. He tries to find a pharmacy that still has insulin stock, packs as much as he can, and takes the train to Helsinki with his wife, from where they plan to fly to Germany to move in with their daughter, a pupil.

“We decided that if we missed this opportunity it would be too late,” he said as he waited at Helsinki airport.

Civilians flee the city of Sumy as Ukraine and Russia agree on a limited ceasefire there; residents said soldiers ransacked their homes in Irpin; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for more help from the UK Photo: Vadim Ghirda / Associated Press

Many Russians leaving the country belong to the social class that has long been critical of Mr. Putin. At home, many others continue to support the president, in part due to increased propaganda efforts in recent years by Russian state media. Mr. Putin has justified his war with Ukraine on the need to “de-fascistize” his government, falsely claiming that Kyiv is controlled by a group of US-led neo-Nazis. patronize.

Maxim Kuvykin, 54, said everywhere he looks in Moscow in recent days he sees the letter “Z”, which the Russian government has used as a patriotic symbol to rally Russians around the invasion of Ukraine.

Mr. Kuvykin said the people around him were gradually “brainwashed”, including his mother who died before the war started during the 24-hour wait at Helsinki airport. After his mother’s funeral, he decided to settle in Israel, where he holds a passport due to being Jewish. “My mother reads all the books in the world. But over the past five years, she’s watched a lot of TV. Propaganda really works,” said Mr. Kuvykin, tearfully.


Vaalimaa Border Station. Many Russians will still be affected by sanctions even if they settle in European countries.

He added: “I knew for years that Mr. Putin would lose his mind and attack a neighbor. “Now I am on the run. I just don’t want to be a part of it.”

Even if they settle in countries in Europe, many Russians will still be affected by sanctions. Passport Inc.

and Mastercard Inc.

said on Saturday that it had suspended operations in Russia, rendering its credit cards useless abroad. Representatives for Visa and Mastercard did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The move by the card companies will likely mainly hurt ordinary Russians by strangling their money when they leave the country, rather than Mr. ruling.

At the Finnish border, some remain defiant. Dasha Kirillova, a 55-year-old horse club owner whose husband founded a street art museum in St. She is going to visit her daughter. She plans to return to her horses soon.

“But if we have North Korean conditions in our country, of course we will leave. I will take the horse to the Caucasus,” Ms. Kirillova said.

“Putin is a madman,” she said. “The scariest thing for me is the many people supporting him.”

Natan Kalt, a 36-year-old IT worker from Moscow, flew to Armenia after the outbreak of war but plans to move to neighboring Georgia, where he has friends. He does not expect to return to Russia anytime soon, fearing his opposition to Putin and the war will get him in trouble.

“I worry that the Gulag will come back,” Kalt said from Yerevan, where he is staying in a hotel with many Russian families.

Others expressed a deep sense of shame at what Mr. Putin is doing in the name of their country.

One woman waiting for her flight at Helsinki airport said: ‘It’s a horror I’ve never experienced in my life. “I don’t know how I can see the world in my eyes.”

Write letter for Sune Engel Rasmussen at and Alexander Osipovich at

Copyright © 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8 The Russians left in a hurry when they were punished and Putin brought them down for dissenting over the Ukraine war

Ethan Gach is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button