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Leonid Bershidsky

Most New Russian Emigres Aren’t Fiery Dissidents

The Atlantic Council sees a “Putin Exodus” of people who oppose the regime. The reality is more complicated.

He has fans.

He has fans.

Photographer: Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

The Atlantic Council, the venerable U.S. think tank, recently released a report on the latest wave of Russian emigration, which it calls the “Putin Exodus.” As an emigre, I usually welcome this kind of research, but this study has reached the wrong conclusions.

The report, by retired U.S. Ambassador John Herbst and Sergei Erofeev of Rutgers University, makes a novel and important point about the most recent Russian emigres. “There is a distinct disparity between those who emigrated before 2012 and those who left later: among other things, the latter demonstrate a growing pro-Western and liberal orientation and greater politicization in general, including stronger support for the anti-Putin ‘non-systemic’ opposition.”