Educated Russians Often Lured To Leave
Russia has been facing troubling demographics ever since the Soviet breakup two decades ago. The population has contracted by several million people over this period. The birth rate is low. Life expectancy for men is still less than 65 years.
And there is also a sense that many educated, talented people are leaving the country.
To take one example, the world of science lit up in July, when a billionaire Internet investor named Yuri Milner announced nine prizes for some of the world’s most innovative thinkers in physics.
Each of the Fundamental Physics Awards came with $3 million, making it the most lucrative prize in science.
Like Milner, three of the nine prizewinners were Russian-born. And like Milner, the three currently live and work outside Russia.
Writer Yulia Latynina says the scientists are a highly visible example of talented Russians who chose not to remain in their home country.
“When I come to the United States, when I see people from Russia — they may be physicists, they may be physicians,” she says. “The majority of them just left because they don’t want to live in a country to which the decent rules don’t apply.”
Latynina is not a part of the Russian diaspora herself. She’s a novelist and host of a political talk show on Echo of Moscow radio.
She says it’s not just billionaires and academic superstars who are leaving, but middle-class people who should be part of the backbone of Russian business and civic life.
Latynina cites estimates that more than 2 million people have left Russia during the nearly 13 years that President Vladimir Putin has been in power.
Pictured: Russia is suffering from an ongoing exodus of many educated, talented citizens, including scientists. Here, scientists rally in Moscow to demand the government increase funding for science on Oct. 13, 2011.Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images