The war in Ukraine caused a new wave of emigration from Russia to the United States: who are these people and why are they unlikely to get along with those who left Russia long ago
Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine has led not only to millions of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the fighting, but also to a new wave of emigration from Russia, categorically rejecting the war. Some of these people were preparing for emigration in advance, while for some, the departure became a necessary measure. The scale of the new "anti-war" wave is still difficult to determine, but, according to some data, we are talking about at least hundreds of thousands of people.
Portrait of the new emigration
«In the last year and a half, it was already difficult for me to find a common language with my surroundings. When people believe in propaganda, there is a feeling that we are on different planets. In addition, I have been to Europe and China, and I understood that we are moving towards the Chinese side of total control and censorship.", - says Ashot Karabekyan, who recently moved from Russia to California. Unlike many, Ashot began to prepare for emigration somewhat in advance, while for his other compatriots the war was a shock that forced them to make a decision to leave as soon as possible.
«I remember my first feeling when I learned about the beginning of the war - it was panic. We saw the footage of how Kharkov was bombed, and did not know how to live in the midst of this madness. It was simply impossible to adapt to this, because if you support it or simply do nothing to resist it, you too participate in the massacres.", - recalls the political refugee Yulia Kalashnikovawho arrived with her husband in the United States shortly after the invasion.
According to the famous Russian and American psychologist Olga Podolskaya, the new wave of emigration has a number of characteristic features. First of all, people are united by a rigidly anti-war position. Secondly, of those who leave today, the majority already have children, and one of the main motives for their departure is concern for the future of the child. Some fear for their current and future safety when children, unlike adults, do not know how to hide their views and blurt out at school what they hear at home.
«I would say that the current emigration is quite homogeneous. These are, as a rule, people with higher education and liberal views. Unlike previous waves, these people are most often not ready to emigrate, because, being in disagreement with the policy of the state, for the last eight or more years they have not dared to leave. This may be due either to the presence of serious obligations at home, for example, to elderly parents whom they could not leave, or to complete unpreparedness for emigration - for example, due to the lack of a profession that is in demand abroad", - says Olga.
Problems of the "anti-war exodus"
Indeed, if earlier (not counting political refugees) it was mainly IT professionals and other “universal” specialists who went abroad, in the new wave there are many humanitarians and representatives of creative professions: journalists, screenwriters, writers and actors who are accustomed to working only in their own language.
«What is happening now has pushed many to desperate steps, and even people who previously did not consider emigration as an acceptable option for themselves began to leave. Often they end up in countries whose language they do not know in principle, for example, in Israel, Georgia or Poland. In such a situation, it becomes a problem for people to even choose the right products in the store.. In a word, they have a lot of domestic and legal difficulties."- explains Olga.
According to her, many representatives of this wave have not yet started looking for work in a new country, continuing to work remotely for their former employer or using previously accumulated savings.
«Previous groups were, of course, more proactive. The new wave is less ready for everyday difficulties, so some of those who have the opportunity to return may return in a year and a half. For those for whom it is dangerous, the primary task is to ensure elementary survival. The difficulty of this group lies in the fact that previously many of those leaving today occupied a rather high social position in Russia, were well-known specialists and received a high income. It is difficult for them to start thinking about everyday life, which increases the feeling of uncertainty"- explains Olga.
According to the psychologist, the uncertainty that new emigrants face at the first stage is not psychological, but objective. The best advice that can be given here is to stick to the so-called search behavior.
«In contrast to the psychological uncertainty in a familiar place, which testifies mainly to the psychological problem of losing their internal reference point, people from this wave of emigration, who find themselves in previously unfamiliar circumstances, are rather deprived of external reference points.", - says Olga.
According to her, the best thing to do in this situation is to immediately leave the illusion of a possible infallibility of the elections: from finding housing, kindergartens or schools, and ending with work. Negative experience will be inevitable, and it is better to tune in to this in advance.
«You need to be prepared to try different options in advance. Difficulties may naturally arise with this, because these people for the most part have a high intellect, and in their old place they are used to calculating everything in advance almost flawlessly. However, now they objectively lack the knowledge and experience to make the “only right” decision, so they will have to gain this experience through trial and error.", - Olga Podolskaya is sure.
Benefits of the new wave
However, the new wave of emigration has several advantages over the previous ones. Firstly, both the governments of some Western countries and public organizations are trying to the best of their ability to help the departing opponents of the war. This includes various programs preferential visas and internships developed a number of Western countries, as well as public initiatives, for example, the project "Ark”, created by the Anti-War Committee of Russia.
Volunteers of the Ark help people who are leaving with the search for housing for free (and in some cities, for example, Yerevan and Istanbul, they can even provide housing), provide psychological counseling and support groups, share information about vacancies and internships, and sometimes organize free courses to study foreign languages. languages.
Secondly, new emigrants, in contrast to previous waves, are much less likely to feel lonely in a new country.
«People often leave in their own circle - as it is now happening, for example, in Georgia or Armenia, which creates additional opportunities for mutual assistance. There has probably never been such mutual assistance among emigrants. In addition, such emigrants retain their reference group - people whose opinion is important to them.", - notes Olga Podolskaya.
Thirdly, a sharp disagreement with the course of their country and a sincere rejection of what is happening in their homeland helps them quickly break their internal ties with Russia and begin to integrate into a new environment.
«Many of them already lived in Russia, being separated from the rest of the population, a kind of "internal emigration". Therefore, it seems to me that their break with Russia will be surprisingly easy. Of course, nostalgia may overtake them in 4–5 years, but this will obviously not happen in the coming years.", - predicts Olga.
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Nevertheless, the psychologist predicts that quite serious conflicts may arise between the "new wave" and the "old emigration" in the near future. Moreover, conflict with a high probability is possible even between the new and relatively “old” waves of political emigration, that is, between those who leave today and people who left for political reasons eight or less years ago.
«The diaspora is a fairly closed group, and closed groups tend to be wary of newcomers. It seems to me that at the moment these conflicts have not yet manifested themselves for real, but they certainly will. While the new emigration is still at the stage of solving everyday problems and needs the "old men", because they know much more about the conditions of life in the new country. But over time, "newbies" will start creating their own newspapers, chats, resources, "helps" for life in a new country, and go out with them to the public. Of course, the "old" emigration will largely disagree with their assessments.", Explains Olga Podolskaya.
According to the psychologist, the situation is aggravated by the fact that many of those leaving today are accustomed to being leaders of public opinion, and over time they will try to take the same role in the diaspora, which will inevitably meet with resistance from current leaders.
«Previously, new emigrants wouldy-nilly join the society, while new ones are often determined to create something of their own, especially in those countries where large groups of people move who know each other well and are used to working together. Of course, not all of their projects will be successful, but it is important to understand that such initiatives are an attempt at material survival and self-realization that these people need.”, concludes the psychologist.
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