Tens of thousands of Russians have left the country fearing arrest, military service or economic problems, with many of them relocating to Turkey, Armenia or Georgia. This comes as the Russian economy has been hit by severe sanctions from Western allies, with the UK Government claiming that the measures are sending Russia towards the “deepest recession since the collapse of the Soviet Union”. Their analysis reported that £275 billion worth of assets, equivalent to 60 percent of Russian foreign currency reserves, are currently frozen.
As a result, Armenia is now reportedly home to as many as 100,000 Russians.
The issue is so significant that there are now initiatives set up to support Russian nationals who fled the country.
In both Istanbul and the Armenian capital of Yerevan, “The Ark” supports Russians on arrival.
Eva Rapoport, a volunteer with the organisation based in Istanbul said its aim is to provide accommodation for people who “had to flee in a hurry for fear of being arrested”
Speaking to German news outlet n-tv, she added: “We try to offer any kind of help so they can stay for free for at least some time and find out what happens next for them.”
The organisation helps new arrivals rent flats with up to six bedrooms.
While the Turkish government has not published figures on how many Russians have entered the country since the beginning of the war, in Istanbul alone, the Ark has organised accommodation for more than 200 people.
According to Ms Rapoport, most of those who fled Russia are well-educated, with some of them leaving because of poor economic prospects in the face of tough sanctions imposed by the West.
She also said that young men are leaving, afraid of being called up for military service.
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But Ms Rapoport said that many of the new arrivals do not permanently settle in Turkey, moving on to neighbouring countries.
According to official figures, 75,000 people from Russia are now living in Armenia, with some experts estimating the figure could be as high as 100,000.
Russian is spoken in the ex-soviet republic, meaning there is no language barrier for the new arrivals.
The Russian language is also spoken in Georgia, where authorities had registered more than 30,000 arrivals from Russia by mid-March.
However, the Ministry of the Interior recorded that more than 17,000 Russians have since left the country.