A recent opinion poll conducted by Russian pollster Platforma has revealed that the majority of Russians are critical of their fellow citizens who have chosen to move to other countries following the breakout of hostilities with Ukraine in February 2022. The poll, which included an online survey and panel discussions with different age groups, found that 31% of participants condemned the decisions of emigres, while 27% expressed partial condemnation. Only 10% approved of their choice to leave, while 28% remained neutral.
Interestingly, the poll also highlighted that younger people and those living in large cities tended to be less critical of the emigres compared to their older counterparts and those residing in smaller towns. However, even in Moscow and St. Petersburg, almost half of the respondents disapproved of the decision to leave the country.
The pollster noted that people’s criticisms were less certain in the in-person focus groups, and the position of the partially negative group was often indistinguishable from being neutral. This was described as “indifferent alienation” in the report. When discussing the motivations behind emigration, participants in the focus groups mentioned concerns for personal safety and well-being, rather than a desire to make a political statement. The pollster concluded that Russian society generally does not view emigres as traitors.
During a panel discussion, one woman expressed understanding for those who chose to leave, stating that if it was a good, hardworking person who couldn’t fight in the conflict, it was wise to save their own life. Another participant suggested that the Russian government had acted too aggressively with the partial military mobilization conducted in September last year, leading some citizens to flee to neighboring states that do not require a visa for Russians.
Following the breakout of hostilities with Ukraine, the Russian government launched a massive recruitment campaign to bolster its military forces. Senior officials have stated that volunteers have exceeded the Defense Ministry’s current needs, and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced that there are no plans for an additional mobilization. He reported that over 335,000 people have voluntarily joined the Russian Armed Forces or other military units since the beginning of the year.
In conclusion, the recent opinion poll conducted by Platforma reveals that a significant portion of Russians are critical of their compatriots who have chosen to emigrate following the conflict with Ukraine. However, younger people and city dwellers tend to be more understanding. The motivations behind emigration were often attributed to concerns for personal safety rather than a political statement. The Russian government has responded to the emigration by launching a recruitment campaign and has received an overwhelming number of volunteers.