Russians willing to emigrate unchanged since 2011, poll shows

© Igor Russak
The proportion of Russians who want to leave their country for other nations has unchanged over the past five years according to a recent research, despite economic sanctions and political pressure applied from abroad.

The state-run VTSIOM public opinion research center reports that that the poll conducted in early October this year showed that a total of 11 percent of Russians confessed a desire to emigrate. Of those, only 7 percent said they wanted to leave Russia in the nearest future, 13 percent said they would prefer to do so in three to five years’ time, 18 percent said they didn’t know when they would be able to take the step, while 51 percent said their desire was not connected with any particular plans.

Besides, 63 percent of those who wanted to move to other countries told researchers that they were not taking any steps for making their dream a reality. Of those doing something to achieve the goal of emigrating, 16 percent said that they were learning a foreign language, 15 percent were accumulating funds and 8 percent said they were searching for a job or an education program in another country.

Eighty-six percent of respondents said that they did not want to leave Russia and 75 percent said that in their opinion it would be best if their children spent their lives in Russia as well. At the same time, 20 percent of those polled said that they personally knew some people who had emigrated from Russia over the past five years.

VTSIOM researchers noted in their report that the lingering economic crisis foreign sanctions and other hardships of recent years had had no effect on the Russians’ views on emigration. In 2011-2016 the share of those who want to leave their country fluctuated between 13 and 11 percent. In 1991, for example, it was at 16 percent.

When researchers asked about the main motive behind the emigration drive, 50 percent said they were attracted by higher living standards, 7 percent sought social stability, 5 percent said they disagreed with the politics of the Russian government, 4 percent cited a better climate, 3 percent wanted more favorable conditions for starting their own business and two groups of 2 percent said they wished for a good education or wanted to reunite with foreign-based relatives.

Some 12 percent of would-be emigrants said they wanted to live in Germany and 7 percent preferred the United States, while France, UK, Canada and Italy attracted 7, 5, 4, 3 and 3 percent respectively.

Russia itself is one of the world’s leaders in accepting immigrants and asylum seekers. According to the Federal Migration Commission, in early 2016 about 10 million foreign citizens resided in the Russian Federation (of them, about 8.7 million were from ex-Soviet republics), with Russia’s population currently standing at over 146 million.