A total of 300,000 Russian nationals is estimated to have left the country between February 24 and May 10, a report by the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) and Country Intelligence Report (CIR) has revealed.
The report further points out there were 15,440 detentions recorded in Russia within the three-month period related to prosecution for anti-war protests, fear of reprisal and censorship, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
The majority of Russians leaving, as data reveals, have headed towards South Caucasus and Central Asian countries, such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Georgia, Uzbekistan and Turkey, with these destinations being picked mainly due to visa requirements and travel costs.
However, Russians travelling to EU countries are mainly using regular options, meaning illegal migration from Russians is currently relatively low. Visas remain available for Russians to travel to many of these countries, although transportation options are limited due to border and airspace closure.
OK Russians, a non-profit organisation helping Russians who don’t support the war in Ukraine, has conducted a study in late March and early April, which shows that out of 1,500 Russian citizens, 18 per cent of them planned to move to another country, listing Western countries as their destinations.
About 58 per cent of respondents claimed they had no ties to the current country they are staying in but intended to stay there due to lack of visa requirements and more affordable travel costs.
According to data from the Russian Interior Ministry, the country issued 2.8 million passports to its citizens during the first quarter of 2022, with 1.2 million or 42.8 per cent being international travel passports, with the number of such documents being 87 per cent higher than in the previous year.
Furthermore, data from the Russian Federation Border Guard Service reveals there was a 46 per cent surge in the number of Russian citizens travelling abroad in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, also revealing a 114 per cent increase in the number of Russian citizens travelling to European countries.
In general, 709,158 Russian nationals were planning to travel to European countries in the first quarter of 2022, representing 18 per cent of total Russian travellers in the world during this period. These rates are up by 12 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2021 and 15 per cent more than the annual average for 2021.
The Border Guard Service data also reveals that out of 3.9 million Russians travelling abroad in the first three months of this year, none of them listed the purpose of changing their permanent address.
The European Office for Statistics, Eurostat, reveals that Russian citizens filed about 700 asylum applications in EU countries in February 2022, with this number doubling up to 1,400 in the following month, making this the month with the highest asylum applications recorded since 2019.
The most sought destination countries in Europe for Russian asylum seekers were Germany, France and Poland, with these three countries representing 68 % of all applications lodged in the EU by Russian citizens in 2021.