Countries that are going through a transitioning period have been facing the population outflow for years. In times of crisis and conflicts, people with higher qualifications always leave for better working conditions. Waves of emigration, especially at the beginning and at the end of the 20th century, were almost always directed towards Western Europe and the United States. Number of people that have left Russia after the 1917. Revolution up to 1921. is somewhere between 1-3 million. Uncertainty in numbers is still present due to the chaotic nature of the revolution, because of the never determined number of the people that have lost their lives, and due to the poor statistical administration at the time. After the consolidation of the Soviet power, and due to the totalitarian nature of the regime, the border became heavily controlled, which have stalled the outflow of the people in a violent manner. In the dawn of the World War II, the same destiny happened to the Baltic states, and rest of the Eastern Europe and Berlin followed after the war. Berlin Wall being the most notorious example and showcase of the people craving for freedom on one side and the frenetic will of the regime to stop them leaving the bloc on the other side. After the Wall fell, and bloc dissolved, the second wave of the emigration began in the 1991. UN estimates that Eastern Europe lost almost 6% of the population, or 18 million citizens.
With the short pause in the nineties, when borders became open and Russian media airing Western TV shows made American way of life a dream for many Russians, during Soviet times and after Putin came to power, the entire state propaganda system made huge efforts to portray a life in the West as insecure, unjust an inferior to the one in Russia.
After the revolution, a state organized propaganda was exported and used to enhance racial tensions in the United States for example. They even succeeded in attracting some people from the African-American community to emigrate to the USSR. This ideological migration has not been successful at the end. Just as the destiny of the many Western communist leaders in the Moscow hotel Lux, this story ended badly. The story of the migration of the African-American families to the USSR started to emerge again after the 2016 American Presidential elections, when the investigation of the work of the Internet Research Agency (Agenstvo Internet-issledovaniy), owned by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a close associate of Putin, proved that one of the most important part of the propaganda strategy was to target the African-American community with the publishing of video materials that had the specific goal of radicalizing the “Black Lives Matter” movement. During these activities, the stories were used to exaggerate the racial, ethnic and other tensions in the West for the Russian public. Reporting about the European and American life was always biased with the stories of violence, and even some ordinary TV reports from the streets of Brussels, New York, Washington and London almost always featuring the homeless people, poverty, dirty and neglected streets in their reports.
Recently, the Russian media have been conducting a campaign in which they mock the civic liberties and political correctness in Western societies. Frequent topics are “mass sexual assaults committed by the migrants”, many homophobic comments about “homosexual epidemic” and similar constructs. The conflict between the left and the right is being exaggerated, and they insist in differences by portraying the political marginals as the mainstream western politics.
Most recently, Russian media started elaborating the topic of the alleged economic migration from the USA and Europe, to no less than Russia, as well as the occupied Crimea.
A few years ago, one of the stars of the famous “1000 on 1” interviews with Putin, was a British farmer from the Moscow region, John Kopiski, who once asked Putin to help him overcome business barriers. His conversion to orthodoxy, his wealth and optimism were frequent stories in the Russian media in the past couple of years.
In the beginning of this year, several Russian TV stations well known for propagandistic programs, synchronously aired several reports on “unbearable economic situation in the West”, with a special emphasis on America, and people that are leaving everywhere, even in Russia, burdened by sanctions.
Along with Russians, that are coming back after they faced a reality of hard life in America, Americans are coming too. Blogs and posts of the disappointed Russians, which speak about the unjust rules of the American labor market and expensive health insurance, are intensively being published in the past several months.
Alyona Glazkova, a NewsNN.Ru reporter, published a blog about “hundreds of thousands” of Americans that are leaving USA. After a small research, we found that this temporary migrant in USA has been writing articles about American hardships for several years already.
In the NTV report, that has been an object of the extensive social media mocking among the Russian expat communities in the West, they portrayed an American chemistry teacher, Michael Lutz, who said that he earned more and spent less in Moscow than in the US. He is a kindergarten English language teacher in Moscow and he lives in the city center. We found the data on the biggest Russian online job search agency trud.com and found out that the average net monthly salary in Russia is 26.000 rubles (345 euros) and in Moscow a bit higher 35.000 rubles (465 euros). If we take West Virginia as one of the lowest economically performing states in the USA, an average preschool teacher salary after taxes is about 3.300 dollars per month (2889 euros). If we take user generated content website numbeo.com as a reference, and compare Moscow to Charleston, West Virginia – in order to attain the same level of standard of living you have for 2889 euros in Charleston, you should be earning 2450 euros in Moscow.
The report further speaks about many Americans who are selling their homes to move to Saratov, Kyrov, Kremenchug, not showing the concrete stories. In the narrative they speak about the happy faces of Americans going out of elektrichkas (Russian suburban light rail system) on their way from work to home.
Even though most of the Russians abroad laugh at this report, and post stories about the children of Lavrov and Putin press secretary Peskov, who live their luxurious lives in the West, the statistics, which show many talented and educated Russians are leaving the country, look grim. Let us just take the official Federal agency for statistics data and we will see that in 2010 only 33.578 people left Russia, while in 2016. this number grew to 313.260. The statistics tells us another interesting fact too, that, ironically., the majority of the Russians pursue a better life in the USA.