Russian emigration rates have been increasing over the past three years, with many people fleeing due to economic and political strife, according to the Institute of Modern Russia.
Now, with Vladimir Putin as president for a third term, five times as many Russians are emigrating than in the 2000s. In 2010, 33,570 Russians left the country, while 36,770 left in 2011 and 122,751 left in 2012, according to The Diplomat.
Also, the Russian Federal State Statistics Service reported that the emigration rates reached a 15-year high in 2014.
Russians are fleeing to many places. The most popular are the United States, Israel and Finland. Other countries include Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Holland, Latvia, France, and Canada, the Institute reports.
The reasons for leaving Russia are mostly because of a desire for a better future, more political freedom or to escape the collapsing economy, the Institute reports.
“Most just want a better life, with some seeking more political freedom than under President Vladimir Putin and others keen to escape an economy that has been hit by Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis and is on the verge of recession,” according to a news story by Reuters.
Lena and Sergei Varaksin fled Omsk, Russia in 2013 and now live in Boston, Massachusetts. They moved to the United States as a part of a Jewish refugee program.
“We moved here to have a future for us and our children. Russia is a very unstable and unpredictable country. There is no democracy there. It is very difficult to plan your future,” the Varaksins said in an email.
Despite the political reasons for emigration, “the general negative atmosphere—aggression in society, disappointed hopes in any change for the better, poor environmental situation— prompted many people to leave,” the Institute said.
The increase in Russian emigration is becoming a problem for Russia’s middle class. Now that a lot of the middle class has moved out of Russia, bureaucrats and people with connections to the Russian organizations are the only ones left, the Diplomat reported.
Even though the rates of emigration are increasing, the conflict of leaving the country persists for potential emigrants.
“Nowadays, it is extremely challenging to come to the U.S. unless you win [a] green card lottery,” the Varaksins said.
Katherine Hikin is a student at Glen Rock High School, New Jersey.