Thousands of Russians Are Getting Out While They Can

But leaving the country is getting harder
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2022 6:10 PM CST
Thousands of Russians Are Getting Out While They Can
Aeroflot planes are parked at Sheremetyevo airport, outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 1, 2022.   (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

More than 2 million Ukrainians have fled Russia's brutal invasion of their country—and a smaller, but significant, number of Russians are trying to get out of their own country while they can. Thousands of Russians have departed for countries including Georgia, Armenia, and Israel in recent weeks, but with most international flights halted, it's getting harder for Russians to leave, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some of the people the Journal spoke to expressed worries about Vladimir Putin's crackdown on dissent and rumors of martial law while others said they were worried about the effects of sanctions. Many said they were opposed to the war and ashamed of their country's actions.

One woman, a director and actress from St. Petersburg, said she was arrested at an anti-war protest and fled the country for Armenia with her 5-year-old son after she was released. It's not clear how many people have left Russia since the invasion began—or how many of them do not intend to return anytime soon—but cities including Helsinki and Istanbul have reported influxes of Russian citizens and searches for terms including "political asylum" have spiked in Russia, NBC reports. Buses and trains are still going to Finland—though with demand extremely high, tickets can cost thousands of dollars. The Finnish Border Guard says 44,000 people crossed from Russia last month, up from 27,000 in February 2021.

Maxim Kuvykin, a 54-year-old man who left Moscow to settle in Israel, tells the Journal that government propaganda was everywhere in the city and that it was alarming to see how "brainwashed" people had become about the invasion. "I knew for many years that Mr. Putin would be out of his mind and attack a neighbor," he says. "Now I’m running away. I just don’t want to be a part of it." (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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