The authorities continue to announce the “mass return” of Russians who left because of the war in Ukraine. This time, this claim was made by Andrei Klimov, deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs.
He did not cite any evidence, but urged to remain vigilant to such citizens. According to Klimov, the law enforcement agencies should deal with the Russians who returned from abroad.
“Our opponents did not miss the opportunity to expand the ranks of their proxies and agents through recruitment activities among so-called relocatees. <…> In this regard, no one has cancelled the legislation on the control of persons under foreign influence, much less such articles of the Criminal Code as treason”, said the senator (quoted by Kommersant).
Klimov recalled that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had created a special Telegram channel for recruiting Russians, while the head of Ukrainian intelligence Kyrylo Budanov said that his agency worked with the Russian opposition.
Recently, the country’s officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have made several statements on citizens who left because of the war.
Speaking at the St. Petersburg Forum, presidential aide Maksim Oreshkin said that “about half” of the Russians who left the country because of mobilization have returned to Russia. His data was confirmed by Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. The minister called the task of the government for the next year the return of as many “pessimists” as possible.
The program of “reverse relocation” of IT specialists is no longer needed, because IT specialists began to return to Russia on their own, said the head of the Ministry of Finance Maksut Shadaev. The agency has been working on this program since the fall. The minister did not specify how much money was spent on it.
Unexpectedly the Speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin, who had demanded for months to take away the property of relocated residents and raise taxes for them, also called for the return of those who left. He said that being abroad allegedly poses a threat to Russians. “Today there is an opportunity to return, tomorrow with the kind of hysteria that is being stirred up in Western Europe, there may not be any more”, Volodin warned.
In turn, Vladimir Putin said that according to the most “conservative estimates” of the authorities, half of those who left have already returned to Russia. He expressed confidence that this process will continue, as emigrants are forced to live “in isolation” from their native language, culture, friends, relatives and acquaintances. Putin also said that “it’s one thing to live in Moscow, one of the best cities in the world, <…> and another to live in some other city”.
None of the leaders of the country said what the data on “half of the returning Russians” was based on. Meanwhile, in a June report, the European rating agency Scope Ratings estimated the number of Russians who will emigrate in 2022 at 1.3 million people. Analysts noted that the “record outflow” of population led to a labor shortage not seen since 1998, and predicted an average inflation rate of 6% in 2023.
Scope’s estimate is not far off from forecasts made by the Central Bank of Russia, which said that inflation could be 4.5-6.4% at the end of the year.
In May, the government also acknowledged a shortage of workers. “There are problems with human resources in general, with highly professional human resources for industry. We are facing these constraints more and more”, said First Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Vasily Osmakov. In this regard, the Cabinet of Ministers was proposed to fill the shortage of workers with prisoners.