Putin’s war is driving thousands of Russians into exile

By | March 13, 2022

The New York Times reports:

They lined up at ATM’s, desperate for cash after Visa and Mastercard suspended operations in Russia, swapping intelligence on where they could still get dollars. At Istanbul cafes, they sat quietly studying Telegram chats or Google Maps on their phones. They organized support groups to help other Russian exiles find housing.

Tens of thousands of Russians have fled to Istanbul since Russia invaded Ukraine last month, outraged about what they see as a criminal war, worried about conscription or the possibility of a closed Russian border, or concerned that their livelihoods are no longer viable back home.

And they are just the tip of the iceberg. Tens of thousands more traveled to countries like Armenia, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan which are better known as sources of migration to Russia. At the land border with Latvia — open only to those with European visas — travelers reported waits lasting hours.

While the exodus of about 2.7 million Ukrainians from their war-torn country has focused the world on a burgeoning humanitarian crisis, the descent of Russia into new depths of authoritarianism has many Russians despairing of their future. That has created a flight — though much smaller than in Ukraine — that some are comparing to 1920, when more than 100,000 opponents of the Communist Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War left to seek refuge in what was then Constantinople.

“There has never been anything like this before in peacetime,” said Konstantin Sonin, a Russian economist at the University of Chicago. “There is no war on Russian territory. As a single event, it is pretty huge.” [Continue reading…]

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