A senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences says he cannot survive on his monthly salary of $450. He has left Russia for a university in Japan. A family of four has purchased one-way tickets to Boulder, Colorado. They want to open a business and say the political and economic situation in Russia will not be resolved anytime soon. Fearing reprisal, prominent oppositionists like Garry Kasparov and economist Sergei Guriyev have announced their self-imposed exile. A poet says he is leaving because he cannot stand to see Putin on TV for the next decade—a common complaint. Pollution in metropolitan Moscow, foreign migrants, taxes, corruption, inflation—or stagflation, as the headlines scream—are some of the others.
As in previous times of uncertainty, people and capital are fleeing the motherland…
… Of course, many Russians do not or cannot leave. According to a study by the Levada Center, 83% of Russians said they did not have an international passport in 2012. Yet the same survey showed that about half of all students would like to emigrate, with a slightly higher rate for entrepreneurs. Improbable though they may be, these are the aspirations of well-to-do Muscovites, not the traditionally marginalized village and urban poor, or the liberal intelligentsia. If the children of oligarchs and a majority of the elite already live and study abroad, and the youngest and most successful aspire to leave for the most mundane reasons, how unsatisfied must the least privileged be—those who have little to gain even if things go well? _Voting With Their Feet
What are the people thinking? Watch how they vote with their feet.
… an accelerating number of elite Russians are leaving the country. The total number of Russian emigrants hardly compares to the hundreds of thousands who left in the aftermath of the USSR’s collapse in 1991, but the tens of thousands leaving today are entrepreneurs, writers, and scientists. Any family that can afford it is likely to send their children to study abroad, hoping they’ll find work and settle outside of Russia. _Russians Go West
Although we are told that Russians stand solidly behind Putin in his aggressive actions toward territories that were formerly part of the USSR, some Russians are becoming alarmed by Putin’s bombastic approach.
The takeover of Crimea, paired with the Kremlin’s renewed crackdown on independent media outlets and opposition politicians, has prompted some people in Russia to make plans to leave the country in pursuit of a better life abroad.
… The emigration of members of the intellectual elite has been a persistent problem for post-Soviet Russia, and several high-profile liberal figures have left the country in recent years, including opposition leader and former chess champion Garry Kasparov and economist Sergei Guriyev.
Russia also continues to rank among the top countries from which people flee seeking political asylum. Last month, the United Nations issued a report saying that Russia was the second leading country after Syria from which citizens ask for safe haven. According to the report, about 40,000 Russians asked for asylum in countries around the world in 2013, a 76 percent increase from the year before. Germany and Poland were the most popular destinations for Russian asylum seekers.
… All those interviewed by The Moscow Times expressed hope that some day Russia would abandon its policies that are increasingly isolating it from the West and become an equal part of the international community instead of frequently standing in opposition to other nations. But for now, they said, it was unacceptable for them to stay here.
“Lots of European politicians said that the West should use the situation to attract the best professionals from Russia. I think this opinion will win and more high-qualified professionals will be leaving Russia,” said businessman Anton. _Crimea Annexation Cause Some Russians to Leave
There is also Russia’s womb drain, the out-migration of hundreds of thousands of Russia’s fertile young women for marriage and various types of employment. Along with Russia’s high rates of abortion, this out-migration of fertile young women contributes to the ongoing low birth rates among ethnic Russians living in Russia.
As the population of capable people declines, Russia will come to depend more and more on outside assistance.
One of Russia’s biggest challenges is the demographic situation. The declining population of 1 million people per year might create a heavy burden for the economy in the future, as it would be hard to find new skilled workers, Hays experts said.
Sadly, Russia is facing a trend of losing around 17 million members of the working age population by 2030, which will undermine economic growth possibilities. __Source
In terms of both internal and external migration, competent Russians are migrating westward. Siberia is becoming de-populated of ethnic Russians, leaving the future control of much of Russia’s natural resource wealth up for grabs. As you can see from the excerpted articles above, even well to do Russians in the popular cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg are not immune from the impulse to “go west.”
For those who still believe that Putin is providing Russians with good leadership, perhaps they should keep in mind that in the 14 years that Putin has controlled Russia, he has made the country more and more dependent on energy exports — neglecting the important diversification of Russia’s economy. Russia’s precarious dependency on the price of oil & gas — and on its customers’ continuing demand for Russian oil & gas — smells of short-sighted planning and corrupt opportunism.
Russia’s phenomenal run of prosperity would have been an ideal time to diversify the economy beyond energy, a goal that harks back to the days of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Instead, energy’s share of the economy actually increased; as of late 2012, oil and gas accounted for about 70 percent of exports, compared with less than 50 percent in the mid-1990s, providing half of the government’s revenue and roughly 17 percent of GDP, according to the EBRD. Gazprom alone represents 14 percent of the Russian stock market’s total capitalization. “It has been an issue since the late 1970s and early 1980s, and it has gotten worse,” says Alexei Kokin, an energy analyst with UralSib Financial. “I don’t see that changing.” _Business Week
Oil prices have remained fairly stable recently, but even at Brent prices near $110 bbl, Russia’s economy is beginning to struggle. (This 2011 Economist article suggests that breakeven prices in 2012 Russia would be $120 bbl. Russia’s breakeven oil price is likely well above $125 by now, after the passage of Putin’s aggressive spending plans.)
Russia’s economic growth rate has plummeted from the 7% average annual pace of the last decade to 1.3% last year. Now the brokerage arm of the country’s largest state bank, Sberbank, SBER.MZ -0.23% expects zero growth in 2014. _WSJ
Imagine the problems in Putin’s Russia should oil prices drop 10% to 20% for more than a few weeks.
One cannot evaluate the state of the world without considering the state of Russia. While every country has its serious problems, Russia’s problems are of the sort that cause large numbers of its best and most fertile people to move abroad.
This is a serious problem for Russia which cannot be solved through denial or through changing the subject.