Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, tens of thousands of Russian citizens have fled their country to Turkey (Istanbul). Anti-war and anti-Putin, these “brains”, who also find refuge in Georgia and Armenia, regularly demonstrate against the Kremlin’s policy.

From the first days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, they made up their minds. Tens of thousands of Russian citizens left their country by airways still open before the rain of international sanctions. In February alone, nearly 80,000 of them would have found refuge in Turkey, in Istanbul, reports the Spanish information site RTVE, which quotes local media.

Driven by Moscow’s legislative tightening, which severely punishes the authors of “false information” on the conflict, and the fear of the establishment of a military regime which would prohibit men aged 18 to 65 from leaving the Russia, many “brains” thus hit the road overnight. Tech companies have also started relocating their employees to other countries, RTVE said.

Russian diaspora already in place in Turkey

And Turkey is not the only destination of these exiles: Armenia and Georgia are also lands of welcome for Russian citizens, who do not need visas to go there. At the end of March, “The Economist” reported that nearly 200,000 Russians had fled to these three countries.

On the spot, a Russian community in Turkey existed before the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the capital of the Bosphorus having been, in 1920, a land of welcome for thousands of Russians fleeing the Bolshevik regime, recalls RTVE. A large diaspora that supports new arrivals: at least two Russian humanitarian organizations welcome and orient refugees, helping them find a safe place in the city to settle, and sort out administrative matters upon arrival.

Russian-Ukrainian protests in Istanbul

Many of these Russians arriving in Turkey (Istanbul) are computer engineers, journalists, filmmakers and people from the world of culture. Rather young and educated, they are described by the Spanish media as involved in anti-war movements. Some of these expatriates gather every day in the center of Istanbul, with dozens of Ukrainian citizens, to protest together against the policy pursued by the Kremlin.



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