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Russia’s Brain Drain Becomes a Stampede for the Exits

The country’s best and brightest see no future as long as their president is obsessed with the past.

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In Kyrgyzstan a member of parliament urgently called on the government to start creating jobs and setting up temporary housing for the information technology professionals who are arriving daily from Russia. Even a poor Central Asian nation that exports cheap migrant labor for Russian construction sites and fast-food restaurants looks like a safe haven to thousands of educated Russians fleeing the cataclysm Vladimir Putin created by invading Ukraine.

This can no longer be described as a brain drain: It’s a stampede for the exits. Konstantin Sonin, an economist at the University of Chicago, has estimated that about 200,000 Russians fled in the first 10 days of the invasion—to Armenia, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey—any country that admits Russians visa-free. That’s a small number compared with the 2.8 million refugees who’ve left Ukraine, but then Russians, as citizens of the aggressor nation, don’t need to run for their lives.