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Russia’s Brain Drain on the Rise Over Economic Woes — Report

Hugo Cardoso / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

An increasing number of educated Russians are leaving the country for economic and political reasons, according to researchers at a prestigious Russian state university.

Researchers at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) conducted interviews with Russian emigrants abroad and cited statistics from countries receiving them. Previous reports have found discrepancies between the real number of Russians abroad and official data.

Each year, an estimated 100,000 Russians emigrate to developed countries, around 40% of whom have a higher education, RANEPA reported on Tuesday. 

A total of 2.7 million Russians currently live abroad, of which 1.5 million have kept their Russian citizenship, the report said. However,  there are only about 800,000 Russians who have a higher education living outside of the country.

A quarter of respondents interviewed by the academy said that they left due to political reasons, including “disappointment after the 2012 elections and especially the events of 2014," when Russia's relations with Western countries deteriorated after it annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. 

Other respondents said their departure from Russia was due to "a marked change in the economic situation after 2014,” including fewer opportunities for employment, career development and a reduction in salaries. 

Of those that went abroad, approximately a third said they would never return to Russia, while about 50 percent said they would not exclude the possibility of returning back to Russia but saw no immediate opportunities to do so.

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