To add to Russia’s economic problems, and partly as a symptom of them, the country now faces the potential loss of a huge number of its professional workforce. Official numbers state that last year 350,000 people emigrated from Russia. It cannot be said with any great certainty what proportion of this figure were graduate professionals however, this gross number is up ten times what it was in 2011.
This is despite a strong patriotism within Russia, which sees many students refuse opportunities (including state funded opportunities) to study at prestigious Western universities.
The factors contributing to this exodus seem primarily to be conditions within Russia “pushing” citizens out, rather than external forces attracting them. Many have quoted the struggling economy as a reason for leaving. Where before the ability to attract financing in international markets was an important skill, it has become less so in the current environment.
However, another strong influence seems also to be the general negative atmosphere in society and a trend towards a harder line taken by the state against civil liberties.
There is currently not much resistance from the government to letting such an important resource (as is represented by these skilled professionals) from leaving and expert opinion believes that it may be possible that this is to allow the opposition to remove themselves from their spheres of influence.
This trend is particularly relevant to the UK, which is currently ranked as one of the top three (along with the USA and Germany) destinations for those who are leaving.