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28 april 2014

The Ukrainian crisis could lead to another Russian 'brain drain'

Andrey Kortunov Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member

Andrei Kortunov, General Director of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), predicts that in the near future the outflow of talented and creative people might be the case because of the political situation in the country and economic challenges.

“Historically, brain drain is accompanied by capital outflow from a country,” he said. “And in this situation there will be two major factors that fuel this trend. If Russia’s economy has stagnated, with Europe and the U.S. gradually getting out of the economic crisis, it will increase ‘brain drain’. Political factors will also play a role: An ideological rejection of Western values will frighten liberal, more educated and creative people.”

At the same time, Kortunov stresses that not all students will leave Russia forever: Some of them will leave, only to return back. He argues that, in order to encourage their return to Russia, the authorities should minimize the negative consequences of the Ukrainian crisis.

“First, Russia should look for a new economic model because the previous one is very outdated,” he recommends. “Second, the authorities should change the ideological and political climate, ease conservative sentiment among political elites and be more tolerant to liberal-minded people to cerate comfortable conditions for their living.”

According to Goldstone, Russia should not to respond to the Ukrainian crisis in a way that provokes an excessively “anti-Western” attitude in Russia or external sanctions that would deeply isolate the country.

“What is crucial to progress is to make sure that even where there are issues of conflict, no power is so aggressive and uncompromising as to create a wholly adversarial relationship with others,” he said. “Russia will always pursue its own interests, as will the U.S. and Europe. But doing so within the framework of international law, and without imposing pervasive animosity toward others, will bring greater rewards in the medium to long run.”

Davidson argues that "there is probably nothing anyone can do to stop a young person who has made up her/his mind to move away from their home region, if long-term prospects in another region of the home country, or another country look brighter."

"But before things get to this stage, teachers, parents, universities, and governments can take steps to make sure that young people are not cut off with contact and exchange with the rest of the world," he concluded.

Source: Russia Direct

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Andrey Kortunov, “The Ukrainian crisis could lead to another Russian 'brain drain',” Russian International Affairs Council, 28 April 2014,

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