What unites Russians who left their country after February 24? Amid the very deep crisis in Russia-West relations, the basis for unity is often not so much Russian nationality and citizenship as it is a common fate, the desire to distance themselves from their origins and professional solidarity.
The Social Foresight Group
conducted a study,
commissioned by the Boris Nemtsov Foundation,
in Armenia, Serbia, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Israel. These countries differ considerably in terms of their economic and investment climates, labor market conditions and migration policies; however, it is precisely this diversity that allows us to draw conclusions about the relative effectiveness of their different approaches.Attitudes toward Russian emigration
We can make a rough distinction between two types of migration policy, which we have designated as “open” and “closed.” The “open” policies adopted by Armenia and Serbia have attracted Russian companies, entrepreneurs and professionals. This, in turn, boosted the Armenian and Serbian economies. Meanwhile, Turkey and Kazakhstan, which have more “closed” policies, have become more like transit points.
Russians accounted for a significant inflow of money into the economies of their host countries. For example, Armenia’sGDP for 2022 had been forecast by the World Bank
to grow 4.8%, but it actually grew 12.6%, as estimated by the IMF
. This growth is not least driven by IT companies opened by Russians and money transfers from Russia. According to the Central Bank of Armenia
, in the first quarter of 2023, Russians transferred $1.2 billion to Armenia – five times more than the same period in 2022.
The influx of Russians coincided with GDP growth of 5.6% in Turkey
, 7.0% in Kyrgyzstan
and 10.1% in Georgia
. Serbia’s GDP growth came in below expectations due to higher energy prices, though Russian emigrants did help to stop the decline in GDP, as reported
by Serbian officials.
The exceptions were Kazakhstan and Israel. Due to the structure and size of their economies, the influx of Russians seems not to have had a significant effect.
All countries discussed in this study have seen their IT sectors strengthened, which is attributable to highly qualified and wealthy Russian emigrants – these are people who were moved by their employers or who entered the countries on a work visa.
In Serbia and Armenia, this led to the creation of their own IT hubs
. In the Emerging Europe IT Competitiveness Index
, Serbia placed 12th in 2022, having risen
from 47th place in 2019.
According to Novaya Gazeta
, following the arrival of Russians in Armenia and Serbia, public investment in the urban infrastructure of Yerevan and Belgrade rose, the service sector improved and the number of public spaces increased.