Those Who Ran Away From Russia Have Nowhere to Return to

NEW – April 22, 2022

The beginning of the return to Russia of some of those who fled rapidly immediately after February 24 has not yet become a stable trend, but it is already causing controversy in society. Why did they run away? Why are they coming back? How to treat them? Moreover, at the same time, the departure of those who no longer want to live in Russia continues, and there is the jactitation of those who categorically do not accept what is happening, but do not know what to do: stay or leave. Some are afraid of repression, others simply do not need “such a Russia” — and there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of them.

Aleksey Nechaye, the leader of the “New People” faction, spoke about them in the State Duma on Tuesday:

“This is a war of attrition for Russia, where, in their opinion, the West as the winner will get everything. In such a dangerous, explosive situation, there is no need to spin the flywheel of mutual hatred here in our country. Today, the intensity of emotions is off the scale both in our propaganda and in the West. By building up resistance to an attack on Russia, we need to reduce the degree of escalation, impulsive, thoughtless.

We should not consider those who left Russia today as traitors. They may have their own family, some business circumstances. They are not traitors. They’re just worried. When they return, they need to be calmed down, and some even need to be hugged. But, of course, it is also strange to call them great patriots of Russia.

However, let’s remember that our strength lies in dialogue and diversity. <…> The military pathos does not need to be transferred inside Russia. And talking about the fifth column, I think, is harmful. Splitting our society today means helping the enemy. To survive and win, Russia will have to transform. And only together we will succeed.”

Nechayev was answered by Speaker Volodin, who said that we are not talking about a split in society:

“Who to hug? Chubais? Who has the anxiety originated? From him? [Arkady – ed] Dvorkovich? They understand everything perfectly and have received everything from the country. As well as cultural figures.

And again — here we are not talking about small children, but about those who understand everything and have made their choice. And they need to think. They need to realise: when it’s hard for the country, it’s necessary to be with the country. That’s the point.

And whoever has capital there, and they took and put conscience and gold on the scales… It is clear that the heart is where the gold is, but then there is no conscience… We are for consolidation. We will support and understand everyone. But there are only those who have received a lot from the country and now have lost their conscience, left and are waiting for what will happen, how it will turn out. We are talking about them… But the one who committed such an act, let them publicly take and explain their misconceptions, fears. And so, you know, neither the guys who, sacrificing themselves, defend the country, nor our voters, citizens, will understand us.”

A very revealing discussion — and not only about the attitude towards those who left and returned. It’s about values. Why did tens and hundreds of thousands leave the country? And who was leaving?

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Here it is necessary to immediately divide those who have left into two categories — ordinary and not so ordinary people. From the former, everything is more or less clear – relatively young people (25-40 years old) who work in the creative field and live in their own world of “kind people” fled, and mostly from Moscow. Those who think Navalny should be the president of Russia, but he is hampered by an evil regime. They fled because they were afraid of conscription (about which rumours in this environment appeared immediately), border closures, falling living standards, and even nuclear war (that is, a strike on Moscow — and this was also discussed among them quite seriously). These are not rich people or celebrities, although their standard of living was above the average. Everything is clear here: people in a panic abandoned their Motherland, their relatives simply because they became afraid. Afraid for one’s life or just for the level of this very life. Well, they don’t want to live in “big North Korea” (which is exactly what they were afraid of, that is, a country isolated from the outside world), so they run.

And it is useless to explain to them that there will never be any North Korea in Russia. This part of our society has lived for years in a fictional reality, among “backward people and tyrannical power,” and even with a completely Western-oriented mindset – it is clear that as soon as the West began to “cancel Russia”, they had to make a choice. Now some of them are returning — having seen that no catastrophe has happened, that life in emigration is not sugar, there are problems with work, the cards of Russian banks abroad are blocked, and the locals (for example, in the same Georgia) are not very happy about the “political emigrants” who have arrived. Who, after all, were not any political emigrants, because no one persecuted them in Russia, nothing threatened them. Except, of course, their own “catastrophic consciousness” — which said that it was necessary not only to rally “against the war”, but also to fight the regime, overthrow Putin, at the same time realising that there was no chance of success in this matter, and they wanted to live in comfort and pleasure.

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This is the bulk of those who left, 90%, and some of them will really return. But there are also those who were a conscious fighter against the regime — worked in the media, universities, waited for the fall of power and revenge. They also ran away and joined those who have been waging war with Russia from abroad for a long time. Now they are all confident of Russia’s imminent defeat and are arguing only about one thing: should the West “finish off Putin” first in Ukraine and then in Russia (to deliver Putin to the Hague), or should the Kremlin “leave a loophole” so that Russia can get out of the war with partial face preservation (but then collapse anyway). These discussions are not surprising — they have been predicting Putin’s collapse for a decade and a half, expanding their ranks and changing the reasons for this “inevitable collapse”.

This audience, of course, will not return — moreover, in the coming months more and more “fighters” will join it. This is a useful process for both sides: our society will purify itself, and like-minded people will reunite in the European expanses.

But there is another category of those who have left — the rich, famous and influential. Sometimes the escapee has all three of these qualities, sometimes one, but it is important that these are people of the “elite”. And now their flight has no justification — not before the court, but in the eyes of our society. Of course, there is a difference between those who left and send curses to the Motherland, rejoice in the death of our soldiers and wish Russia a speedy and complete defeat, and those who simply remain silent. Yes, there is a difference between those who left for good, shaking the dust off their feet, and those who simply decided to “wait it out at a distance”. There is a difference — although maybe the point is that the former are simply more honest? More honest in one’s renunciation of Russia?

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Yes, there is a difference — but in any case, these people ran away, betrayed, deserted. They abandoned their Motherland at a moment of trials, at an hour when it was declared a fiend of hell. Moreover, the overwhelming part of them went to where they already had property (or views on it), to where they had accounts, to where their “treasures” were, and hence their heart. These people may even sincerely believe that they are driven by the most exalted feelings — protest, pacifism, indignation at war… But for the people, they have definitely become traitors. Because, unlike ordinary citizens who fled due to panic in their narrow circle of “people with kind faces”, the rich, famous and influential had a completely different responsibility to society.

Oligarchs and movie stars, former ministers and popular bloggers, even “our all” [Alla – ed] Pugachev — they all considered themselves “elite” and had a great influence on the life of the country (some moral and ideological, some economic). It is no coincidence that the same Makarevich was so outraged by the discontent of the people against those who left — saying that it was not Alla and others who left Russia, but it was “Russia itself that left you”. That is, they seriously considered themselves the “salt of the earth”, and the vast majority of the people were just “cattle”. And at the same time, a considerable part of this very “cattle” to the last treated them as idols and gurus.

Flight nullified all their influence: saving their spiritual comfort, the “stars” lost their reputation and their audience. Lost irrevocably — and it cannot be restored by any explanations and excuses, even if they are. There is no hatred, there is just contempt.

And most importantly, it is simply impossible for them to return to where they fled from, because that Russia is no longer there. The country is becoming different — they have also made their contribution to this, showing everyone their true essence, making their choice, and they need to answer for this to their people, who no one else will be able to convince of the need to consider strangers as their own.

Petr Akopov

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