Time To Shove Off! And What Then?…

Alas and alack, there's only so many grants for foreign "intelligents" at Western think-tanks.

Alas and alack, there’s only so many grants for foreign “intelligents” at Western think-tanks.

If I had a cent for every Russia story from the past week that featured the (conclusively debunked) “sixth wave of emigration” meme…

And if wishes were fishes. Still, the coverage of Russian reactions to Putin’s return does demonstrate the venality and general fecklessness of the Western MSM. As Adomanis correctly noted, it is “negative value added” – you come away from reading them understanding less than you did before.

But let’s for a moment ignore that all the demographic statistics indicate that emigration is currently at very low levels, having flattened out in the late 2000’s and stayed down since. Let us ignore the much bigger levels of immigration – and not only from Central Asia or the Caucasus, but the fact that the migration balance even with many “developed countries” is beginning to turn positive.

Instead, let’s ask ourselves two different questions: what kinds of Russians are actually willing to migrate, and where would they go?

Putin Derangement Syndrome

Well, an inkling of the answer to the first question can be gleaned just from reading the comments of emigres to be, and the places where they discuss it. For instance, here is one comment – not at all atypical – from this post “What did Putin do to me?” at Snob.ru (a social network for wealthy Russians that, unlike Facebook, you actually have to pay for):

I began to go to Russia regularly, 2-3 times a year in 1994. I liked everything. How the country was changing, becoming a part of the modern world, how the people, my friends, were waking up from the lethargic, swamp-like stagnation of the Soviet era and opening their eyes to the modern world. I liked the informality and disorder of the Russian government: the Russian state was always far too powerful, and its weakening could only be welcomed. Other power centers appeared. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, for instance, opened a fund called “Open Russia.” The name itself was priceless.

On returning to NY from Moscow and sharing my observations… Elderly Russian Jews shook their heads in dismissal and answered my youthful enthusiasm thus: “Remember, nothing good will ever come out of that country.”

I laughed at them, dismissed them. They didn’t understand that today is different and everything is changing, and they answered: “Yes. Changing. But remember… nothing good will ever come out of that country.” I shook my head and stopped the pointless conversation with these stupid old people. I blame Putin most of all for now having to stand in shame before those (now mostly deceased) wise old Jews, and eat my hat.

One question: does this sound like someone representative of ordinary Russians? In contrast to twats flying in from NY, practically all Russians who actually lived there consider the 1990’s to have been utterly disastrous. In particular, 1994 saw the nadir of several indices – falling economic output, life expectancy, the beginning of a corrupt and unsuccessful war in Chechnya. And this freak – I’m afraid there’s no other word for him, gloating at government dysfunction which directly resulted in pensioners and state workers not being paid for months on end and criminal mafias ruling the street- paints this year as the high point of Russia’s development.

Needless to say, his views don’t represent about 99.99% of Russians.

A Spade is a Spade, and Liberals are Fascists

Because an unknown Euro blueblood is so much more legitimate than an elected President with 70% approval ratings.

Because an unknown Euro blueblood is so much more legitimate than an elected President with 70% approval ratings.

Now what about that Pora Valit website, featured by Western journalists as the voice of Russia’s liberal consciousness wanting to emigrate? (The name means “time to shove off”). That site is more representative of Russian liberal opinion – that is, the liberals who aren’t rootless cosmopolitans who subscribe to Snob, not because they don’t want to but because they’re too poor and crude for it. One of their posts describes how they would much rather live under a restored Prussian monarchy in a separatist Kaliningrad than under the Chekists.

[Kaliningrad] is suitable for an “Egyptian scenario” today. For not many want to live under Putinism, and ethnic Russians need their own state. The clever, educated and honest will go to live there.

The ideal legitimate decision after a revolt in Kaliningrad will be the introduction of a monarchic form of rule as in England. The best candidate for this is the Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, who belongs to the Russian dynasty and the historic Hohenzollern dynasty, which ruled these regions since the 13th century… The monarchy will be recognized by all the monarchs of Europe, and the Grand Duke will also retain his right to the Russian throne, which will enable him to become a real splinter in the eye of Putinism. Our very existence in the heart of Europe will tell Putin: You are an usurper! You are illegitimate!

Only a monarchy headed by representatives of the Russian and Prussian dynasties will allow us to guarantee that we will not return to a USSR-2. It will give us free development, democracy, and real lustrations – or even better, the expulsion of everyone with ties to the Putin regime. In principle all that’s left is to solve this question with the US and the EU…

But not only do these kinds of posts illustrate a flat out insanity and utter disconnection with mainstream Russian sentiment that cannot afflict anything more than a marginal percentage of a population where the numbers of people saying the country is “going in the right direction” actually rose in the wake of the announcement of Putin’s return, the fact is that this talk of aristocracy and a state for ethnic Russians actually hints at the racism and nasty ethnocratic sentiment that passes for Russian “liberalism.”

There are more than hints of this at other places. For instance, in a post discussing what they actually DON’T like in the US, they cite itsexceedingly high tolerance and ass-licking of African-Americans, feminists, fags, etc.” I’m sure Troy Davis or the gay soldier booed at a Republican conference would beg to differ, but then again no doubt the liberals think that they actually got off TOO LIGHTLY, obsessed as they are with lustrations, ethnic cleansing and deporting anyone who disagrees with their sick ideology. But that doesn’t stop bastions of Western journalism like The New York Times and The Economist from prominently featuring and praising them.

If Russia is a Sinking Ship, then the West is the Titanic

Now that we have established who are the people who want to emigrate so much at all costs – and whether it is in the interests of any normal country to accept them, it is worthwhile to consider another key question left out by the Western media in its “sixth great wave of Russian emigration”-spiel: where would they actually go?

Where to go? Visa free travel for Russians.

Where to go? Visa free travel for Russians.

First, going anywhere in the First World (remember that the liberals, being very racist, tend to despise anything else) is unfortunately fairly hard for Russians. See the map above. Obviously there are ways to get into the EU and the US, such as paying for an education abroad, or getting a job with a company, but for that you actually need some set of skills, motivation and easy-going character – not qualities that every bitter Russia liberal has in spades.

But okay, assume it’s not a huge issue. What next? The problem is that the entire Western world is wracked by economic troubles, with the Great Recession now giving way to the Great Stagnation. US economic output is lower now than in 2007, median incomes have plummeted, and many Americans themselves cannot find jobs. Unless they have very specialized skills and a good command of English,  what is a new Russian emigrant to do there? The same goes for the UK and most of the EU. Anti-immigrant sentiment is growing everywhere (and sorry to say but it doesn’t give a fuck whether you’re pro- or anti-Putin). If you are a foreigner who want to work in the West, you could scarcely have picked a worse time.

What about the future? As Golts claims, isn’t it a fact that “Russia’s fiscal ship is sinking”, about to go down as soon as unsustainably oil prices crash? Won’t there be hordes of Russians wanting out soon? But let’s look at the other countries, because in these matters everything is relative. The EU – average budget deficit at 6.5% and debt over 100% of GDP, with countries like Greece down and Spain, Italy, and Portugal close to the brink of fiscal insolvency. The US – budget deficit of 11% of GDP, debt at nearly 100% of GDP, its monetary firepower exhausted, and facing a new recession on top of it all. The UK is a smaller version of the US. In stark contrast, Russia’s debt is negligible, its foreign reserves substantial, and the budget is actually in SURPLUS at 3% of GDP for the first half of 2011. If this means Russia’s fiscal ship is sinking, then the West must be the Titanic.

Okay, now I’m sure that oil may fall for a long period, assuming a few conditions are met (e.g. massive new easily-accessible oil discoveries or a long depression in both the West and China, both of which there is approximately zero sign of), and in that case, Russia will be in quite a pickle. But this scenario kind of presupposes absolute economic apocalypse in the West, and since most normal non-ideological people make decisions on whether to emigrate or not on relative economic opportunities, exactly what grounds are there to expect a mass exodus out of Russia when the world outside is an economic wasteland?

Of course, there will be a few ideologues who will leave regardless because of their Putin Derangement Syndrome. This kind of reminds me of 2004 in the US. I’m sure a few dozen or so Americans left for Canada in the wake of Bush’s re-election. But they were a tiny, tiny fraction of the hordes of liberals loudly proclaiming they would leave the US. In the end analysis, 99% of them were just too lazy or demotivated to go through with it. Likewise in Russia.

Now some forms of emigration are looking increasingly attractive for Russians, namely “downshifting” which is already well-known in the West. This involves getting a Russian (preferably Moscow) salary, or other source of income (e.g. rent) which are nowadays fairly respectable by global standards, and living like a king in some cheap foreign place with lots of sunshine like Goa, the Philippines, Argentina, etc. The economics work out. For instance, renting out a Moscow apartment can net you $500 per month; an Internet job not tied to any physical location may yield another $1000 per month. This may not seem that much in the US or Europe, but it can go a long, long way in a place like Laos or Central America. This concept of exploiting differential international prices, called geoarbitrage, is a rational and fulfilling way to live life and becoming increasingly popular in Russia. But it is profoundly different from the apocalyptic connotations associated with Western coverage of emigration from Russia. First, only a small percentage of the population can exploit it – at least, not until most jobs because “dematerialized”. We can’t all rent out our flats and earn money from Internet businesses. Second, it is hardly a confirmation of backwardness. To the contrary, only relatively savvy and free-thinking individuals in relatively developed countries can partake of such a lifestyle.

Obviously, the Russian liberals have no interest in such a life. With their quasi-racist and colonialist complexes, they naturally prefer rainy Britain and its bourgeois dictatorship to places they think of as Third World sinkholes that are little better if at all than their own country that they hate and despise so much. They want to go West for its slogans and self-serving propaganda about its own supposed transparency and lack of corruption, its freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, etc. that are all absent under the Putin regime. Fortunately, these psychos are few in number, and they will not be missed by Russia. Скатертью вам дорога, друзья!


So here’s the summary:

1. Few Russians are leaving. Many are coming in. Many of those who do leave go for entirely respectable reasons such as education abroad or taking advantage of international price differentials that are par for the course in any developed nation.

2. Furthermore, far more people want to leave most of the developed countries whose journalists sneer at Russia than do Russians themselves.

3. A few, perhaps a few dozen per year, leave on ideological grounds – mostly involving some irrational fear or hatred of Putin (“Putin Derangement Syndrome”, the Russian equivalent of Bush Derangement Syndrome); hatred towards Muslim immigrants into Russia; and a ridiculously warped and rose-tinged view of the pureness and integrity of Western civilization.

4. Most Western countries are too preoccupied with their own economic problems to offer any promise to new Russian immigrants, utterly regardless of their philosophical and political mutterings.


  1. You talk about ethnocentrism here as if it was a bad thing. You’ve talked about your rootless cosmopolitanism in the past. I’m pretty rootless too. I also happen to be bald. But I don’t wish baldness on others, I don’t go around saying that it’s immoral to have a full head of hair. That would be petty and selfish of me. And if I ever lose a leg, I hope I will be self-aware enough not to demonize two-legged individuals because of that.

    “…the migration balance even with many “developed countries” is beginning to turn positive.”

    What’s the point of putting quotation marks around the word developed? Do you deny that some countries are more developed than others?

    “…living like a king in some cheap foreign place with lots of sunshine like Goa, the Philippines, Argentina, etc. The economics work out.”

    The reason why so few people do this is that for the vast majority the economics of this do not in fact work out. People are willing to pay extra for law and order, efficient garbage collection, clean water, good schools for their kids, and many other things that can only be gotten in developed (no quotes) societies. Plus of course, most people in both developed and undeveloped countries really, really prefer the company of their own kind. I guess that makes the entire world seem evilly racist to some. Why can’t everybody hop on one leg all the time out of solidarity with those who really have to? How evilly selfish of them to refuse to do that.

    • I wasn’t actually making a political / PC point there. I should have bolded or capitalized instead of using the apostrophes.

      My point was that some critics say that, yes, while Russia may get lots of immigrants, they are typically poorly-educated people from developing countries (obviously, a crude generalization that is often has exceptions, but not inaccurate as a whole) whereas it is simultaneously losing people of much higher human capital – if in smaller numbers – to developed countries. Their main point is that when adjusted for human capital Russia is a net loser in terms of migration flows.

      However, my point is that that is no longer true since the late 2000’s or so, because Russia’s net migration balance with developed countries has become so incredibly small in comparison with the size of its population that the “brain drain” is now truly insignificant.

      You’ve talked about your rootless cosmopolitanism in the past. I’m pretty rootless too.

      I am exposing the Russian liberals.

      People are willing to pay extra for law and order, efficient garbage collection, clean water, good schools for their kids, and many other things that can only be gotten in developed (no quotes) societies. Plus of course, most people in both developed and undeveloped countries really, really prefer the company of their own kind.

      Translation – they are sheeple without imagination. Bourgeois herds.

  2. Side question. Do you have any figures on immigration to Russia from developed (no quotes) countries? I would be really interested to know how many Americans, Europeans etc. have decided to throw in their lot with Russia by getting RF citizenship or *vid na zhitelstvo*.

    We all know Russia gets lots of people from dirt-poor post-Soviet countries. But I would be interested to know if it attracts people from richer countries nowadays. What’s the trend there, if there is one?

    • This is a good and interesting question.

      In terms of migrating Americans and Europeans, the short answer is – no. At least, outside of a few dozens of people who go for sentimental or ideological reasons. The numbers of migrants from developed countries going to Russia have been more or less steady since the late 1990’s (the data series for individual countries at Rosstat only go back that far). But I imagine these flows will throughout all periods almost all be either (1) advisers – esp. in 1990’s, businesspeople, exchange students, journalists, etc., and (2) Russians returning from life in the West – especially prevalent in the 1990’s, counter-intuitively, simply because the outflows were much greater then and those who fail to settle down usually go back after a few months or years, not a decade or later.

      What I think is rather more useful is the net migration rate. Take the countries with which Russia had the most intense population exchange – Germany, Israel, and the US. In 1997, the figures were -45984 to Germany, -11247 to Israel and -8419 to the US; as of 2009, they were -1530, -33 and -865 respectively. The first seven months of this year show +376, +145, and -277 (as calculated by the old methods). The overall intensity of flows is very small. What this basically says to me is that Russia from 1993 to today has gone from being (A) a country where certain categories of people, such as R&D personnel, want and do emigrate, but into which no sizable Western social group wants in; to (B) a country where pretty much all social strata are basically satisfied, and what migration occurs tends to be temporary in nature, and into which as before no sizable Western social group wants in.

      What about the future? It’s hard to predict, obviously. The uptick in emigration from Germany and Israel is intriguing, but far too small from which to draw any conclusions. I imagine they consist almost entirely of German-Russians, Russian Jews and academics who never truly settled in and perhaps still have property and relatives in Russia and think they may be able to do better in Russia. But there is still a big gap in economic prosperity between the EU and Russia, though the derivatives differ quite a lot with things basically worsening in Europe and improving in Russia. And unfortunately for Russia, its climate isn’t going to draw anyone in. And even if (more likely when) Russia overtakes the likes of Greece or Portugal, it’s not like Portuguese and Greeks will start flocking to Russia. Their surplus workers will be moving within the EU, e.g. to Germany or Scandinavia. So I don’t see these flows becoming significant any time soon.

      • In the case of migration to Germany and Israel, the diminishing flows has much to do with the evaporation of the population of ethnic Germans and Jews who were directly targeted as immigration candidates by Germany and Israel. There’s been a similar drop-off in German emigration from Kazakhstan for the same reasons.

      • Thanks for a detailed answer. I knew that the flow to Israel had reversed in Russia’s favor already several years ago. You are probably right that in all or most cases, it is Russians returning home rather than Westerners immigrating to Russia.

        I have met a couple of exceptions. One for instance is an Austrian, has lived in Russia for ages, has business here and a Russian wife. He has acquired *vid na zhitelstvo*, which makes sense in his case, since he has practically gone native anyway. But I think he retains his Austrian citizenship.

        You’re right about climate too. I don’t think we’ll see lots of Europeans retiring to Russia, the way Americans do to Mexico and other warm cheap places.

        • Dubious that there would be much migration of true Westerners to Russia except in cases of inter-marriage, or setting up business, etc., because they would still find many conditions more primitive than they are used to, plus find the language hard to learn. I am guessing most migration would be Russian emigres returning home because they can. On anecdotal level, I personally know some ethnic Russians who emigrated to USA in the 1990’s, but then returned to Russia a decade or so later. In this particular case, these people were in the business of figure skating (athletes, coaches, etc.) When Soviet Union collapsed, the ice skating rinks went all to hell and there was no place to train athletes, so many of them had to move to the West. America, in particular, has many great rinks to train in, and is hospitable toward elite guest skaters. Then, under Putin, new rinks were built in Russia and situation improved, so many skaters/coaches were able to return home to continue their training. By the way, I am talking about elite skaters and coaches, like Olympic level. One thing I am hoping in Putin’s return to presidency is that he will attempt to rebuild Olympic program, back to level it was at in Soviet times.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          I have lived in Russia for almost 20 years and have long had a Permanent Residency Permit for a Foreign Citizen. My wife, whom I married in 1997, is a Muscovite; she has borne me three children, who were all born in Moscow and have dual nationality, if not by Russian law, then certainly according to the law of the United Kingom, of which state I am still a citizen.

          In the many years that I have lived here, I have become acquainted with three fellow countrymen, two United States citizens, an Australian and a New Zealander who have also chosen to settle in Russia with their Russian spouses and children and who have full residency permits. All of them live as I do in Moscow, apart from the Australian, who is a resident of Nizhny Novgorod, and the New Zealander, who lives in Lipetsk.

          Having found out my wife’s nationality, Russian acquaintances always voice their amazement over the fact that she and I still live in Russia. However, a major reason why I chose to live in Russia after my marriage was the simple fact that my wife certainly did not wish to emigrate.

          When Russians ask me why I came to Russia in the first place, they are also astonished with the answer that I give them, namely that I arrived here unemployed and seeking work.

          Having graduated in Modern Languages as a 41-year-old mature student in 1990, I then studied as a postgraduate, eventually becoming qualified as a modern languages teacher. However, after one year of fruitless searching for a teaching post in the UK, I set off for Russia, where friends that I had made there whilst studying for one year in the Soviet Union, having learnt in 1992 that I was still unemployed in the UK, advised me to return, assuring me that I would certainly find work there as an English native-speaker teacher of English. And that is what I have been doing most of these past two decades in “The Evil Empire”.

          If I were to find the same employment in England that I am engaged in now, I surely should be paid considerably more. I earn 60,000 roubles a month here in Moscow, which makes me “middle-class”. I must add, however, that the standard of living that I enjoy in Moscow is qualitavely higher than any that I experienced in the UK, where, before entering higher education, I had worked for 15 years underground as a coal miner. My gross annual earnings in 1984, when I last worked underground, were about £800 a month. I then lived in rented accomodation and was always broke on Tuesdays.

          My home town is not situated very far from where AK spent much of his youth in the Northwest of England. After the razing of much of the old UK industrial heartlands in the Thatcher years, my home town, together with similar post-industruial wastelands, is now mostly populated by a benefit dependent underclass, many of whom being also drug and/or alcohol dependent as well; at least, that was the impression that I got when last in my home town on a very brief visit in 2003.

          To be sure, I could simply be categorised as “an exception that proves the rule”, as an anomaly of no statistical importance. Nevertheless, having discussed with other Western “exiles” my reasons for living here, they too have voiced similar feelings as mine concerning the quality of their lives in post-Soviet Russia as compared with the quality of their earlier lives in the West.

          One final point: My eldest children – my 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter – have visited England twice in the past five years. They like the place – “cool” is the term they use – but have made it clear to both me and my wife that they most certainly do not wish to live there. As of yet, my 3-year-old daughter has voiced no opinion over this matter, although she does occasionally scold me for speaking English, demanding that I converse in Russian. I should add that she makes such admonishments in English.

          • Quite a remarkable life story, from coal miner to teacher. Congratulations on a successful life and wonderful family. All the best to you!

  3. Giuseppe Flavio says:

    In the end analysis, 99% of them were just too lazy or demotivated to go through with it.
    IMO, it is not just laziness or demotivation, it is that there are people that love to hate and complain. Highly placed and controversial/charismatic politicians, like Putin, Bush or Berlusconi are their favorite targets, because they (the politicians) don’t even know you’re badmouthing them, so you can safely play the hero dissident.
    The hater and complainer won’t emigrate for the simple reason that by doing so he would increase the distance from the target. What’s the point of complaining about Putin/Bush if you’re a Russian living in the UK, or an US citizen living in Canada? Most people will ignore such rants.

  4. Of all countries in the World, could you believe it, young and educated Russians are also moving too…Latvia!

    Two emigrants tell their strory. And read carefully what their are saying. Many of their friend harbour similar thoughts:


    Also please note that the newspaper telling this story is a strong supporter of Harmony Center, the only political party in the World which can both take part in democratic elections and is ruled by ethnic Russians!

    • Looks like Harmony Center trying, a bit clumsily if anything, to present itself as a “patriotic” party. Look, we have two Russians who want to come to Latvia!

    • So, these Russian youths moved to Riga and found work in some sort of Internet activity. I commend them for learning another language and making a needed change in their lives. I have never been to Latvia myself, but I have no doubt is a lovely place to live if one can find employment and a decent apartment. From what I understand, the main problem there is unemployment and the fact that many families cannot afford mortgage to buy a house. This story is also a good reminder that facts or trends at an aggregate level do not necessarily dictate each individual case.

  5. LOL, to Latvia? I thought that myth was already dealt with on this website…

  6. I am from Thailand. Here we see somewhere between 5,000 and 15,000 Russian establishing residency each year, and residency here means either successive indefinate 90 day or one year visas, that is to say permanent residency is almost impossible to get, yet they come by the thousands each year.

    • Just out of curiosity: any idea why so many Russians moving to Thailand?
      Do they have to learn Thai language when they get there, or do they establish Russian-speaking enclave?

      • To be blunt. Cheap whores and reasonable civilized (as in rule of law and transport links)

        • Moscow Exile says:

          He might well be yet another exception that proves the rule, but one of my Russian colleagues married a Thai girl three years ago and they now live here in that delightful Moscow suburb known as Khimki. Although he had been to Thailand several times before he got wed, he didn’t meet his wife in Thailand: she was working in Moscow when they became friends and he went over to Bangkok, where she had returned to continue her studies, in order to marry her.

      • Thailand’s government provides easy residency to retirees from foreign countries, and it probably attracts lots of retiring Russians as well. It is either Thailand or Crimea if you want to retire someplace with good weather.

      • I’m really not surprised. According to Newman, there are lots of foreign lackadaisical drifters in Thailand who are only there for the favorable relative prices, the weather, and (for some) the friendly sex laws.

  7. grafomanka says:

    Dunno about liberals, I think ‘time to shove off’ is more a political statement than actually expressing concrete plans to leave.
    I know two families who contemplate leaving Russia and both of them are quite well off. If anybody will leave, it’s people with money who can move easily.