When Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, hope and a sense of upward mobility filled the people of Russia, finally freed from the central economic planning and political oppression under the Soviet Union. They could get jobs, raise children, and live in peace and happiness, they felt. Now, Putin is set to retake control of the presidency from his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, and the mood of the nation could not be more opposed to what it was when he first came to power, as the Economist
describe in this study of a sickening Russia
. The Russian people are emigrating, or at least planning to or want to, and taking their money with them. The first to want to get out are entrepreneurs, followed closely by students, fleeing the oppression of a nation whose politics is so rotten that dissenters are thrown in jail or forbidden from travel, and where investors are hesitant to put money into new businesses--if a rival is friends with the local government, you could be jailed and your assets seized. In Putin's Russia, nostalgia for the Soviet Union is now coming equipped with some similarity to the circumstances of Soviet rule.
The Economist is quick to point out that Russians will not emigrate in droves; the vast majority of them will stay home, unhappy with their lot in life. How the Russian people react to their situation is of great importance though, and something we need to study very closely--not least because Russia still remains the only nation on the planet physically capable of destroying our own. It would do well to try and understand where they are going.