Thanks to the best efforts of state-run media and a propaganda onslaught, an estimated 60% of Russians are said to support the country’s current “special military operation” – i.e., the invasion of Ukraine – and according to some polls, as many as 80% of the population still holds a favorable view of the war’s architect, Vladimir Putin.
On the other hand, many Russians – including prominent media personalities, academics, and political figures – oppose the invasion. Fearful of being conscripted into the armed forces or simply unable to support their nation’s actions, they have fled the country – or, if they were already elsewhere, have announced that they will not return, at least while Putin is still in power.
To assemble a list of prominent Russian citizens who have fled the country since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, 24/7 Tempo gleaned information from a variety of media sources in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Turkey, and Australia. (Some are coming to America, too. Here’s how many Russian-born people live in every state.)
The flight from Russia might be reaching historic proportions. According to the German media organization Deutsche Welle, since its invasion of Ukraine, Russia is witnessing its largest exodus since the October Revolution of 1917. An estimated 300,000 people left in the first month after the war began.
Besides younger people who have fled to neighboring countries to avoid conscription, Russia is experiencing a talent drain. The nation is hemorrhaging influential business leaders (oligarchs), TV reporters, filmmakers, literary scholars, rappers, actors, comedians, and top government officials. (In addition to individuals, businesses are also reacting to the invasion. Here are the companies that have suspended all operations in Russia.)
Many of them are going to Armenia, which does not require a visa, but the diaspora includes emigrants to Georgia, Finland, Israel, Lithuania, Latvia, Turkey, France, the U.K., and Germany.
Many of the prominent Russian émigrés are ashamed of their country and refuse to return until Putin is removed from power. Others, such as banker Timur Turlov and venture capitalist Yuri Milner, have taken the step of renouncing their Russian citizenship altogether.
For its part, the Kremlin has branded those who have left the country as traitors. The government calls the action against Ukraine a “special military operation” and punishes those who call it a war.
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