“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”
“Some who have fled are bloggers, journalists or activists who feared arrest under Russia’s draconian new law criminalizing what the state deems “false information” about the war.
Others are musicians and artists who see no future for their crafts in Russia. And there are workers in tech, law and other industries who saw the prospect of comfortable, middle-class lives — let alone any possibility for moral acceptance of their government — dissipate overnight.
They left behind jobs and family and money stuck in Russian bank accounts that they can no longer access. They fear being tarred as Russians abroad as the West isolates the country for its deadly invasion, and they reel over the loss of a positive Russian identity.
“They didn’t just take away our future,” Polina Borodina, a Moscow playwright, said of her government’s war in Ukraine. “They took away our past.”
The speed and scale of the flight reflect the tectonic shift the invasion touched off inside Russia. For all of President Vladimir Putin’s repression, Russia until last month remained a place with extensive travel connections to the rest of the world, a mostly uncensored internet giving a platform to independent media, a thriving tech industry and a world-class arts scene. Slices of Western middle-class life — Ikea, Starbucks, affordable foreign cars — were widely available.
But when they woke up Feb. 24, many Russians knew that all that was over. Dmitry Aleshkovsky, a journalist who spent years promoting Russia’s emerging culture of charitable giving, got in his car the next day and drove to Latvia.”