“When the war started,” Sergei, 45, said of Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine on February 24, “we decided to leave for Kazakhstan.”

As soon as the school year ended in June, Sergei closed his furniture assembly plant in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk and left Russia with his wife and children. Like other Russians who spoke to RFE/RL for this story, Sergei requested that his identity be concealed out of concern for his relatives and his interests in Russia.

“I hope… we can stay here forever,” he told RFE/RL’s Siberia.Realities. “In Kazakhstan, I can speak my mind and I can breathe freely.”

In the first half of 2022, 419,000 Russians left the country, according to the statistics agency Rosstat. Although more recent figures have not been released, the outflow has likely increased since President Vladimir Putin announced a military mobilization on September 21. While it’s unclear how many of those departures were Russians leaving the country long-term, the loss of work-old people, entrepreneurs and trained specialists has been a significant drain on Russia.

According to analyst firm BCS Global Markets, individual Russians sent $14 billion abroad during the first nine months of the year.

Additionally, more than 1,000 international companies have stopped working in Russia due to the unprecedented Western sanctions imposed on Moscow following the invasion. Some 320 left Russia altogether. Hundreds of Russian companies have also sought greener pastures abroad.

Although the massive influx of Russians – many of whom left their homeland for economic reasons rather than being political dissidents opposed to Putin’s policies – has caused rents and property prices to spike and exacerbated anti-Russian tensions in some quarters – countries like Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia and Turkey report significant economic benefits following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Kazakhstan

Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev said last month that more than 50 international companies had moved from Russia to Kazakhstan. According to Prime Minister Alikhan Smaiylov, dozens of other companies are in the process of negotiating such a decision.

“It will help our country’s economy significantly,” Toqaev said.

In addition, more than 100 Russian companies – including Tinkoff Bank, ride-sharing company InDrive, game developer Playrix and software developer MNG Partners – have either moved to Kazakhstan or are in negotiations to do so.

According to Daulet Argandykov, president of the Human Resources Development Center of Kazakhstan, these companies have created 4,000 to 6,000 jobs and have a total capitalization of $27 billion.

Kazakh banks also saw a bargain, according to the public regulator of the financial markets. As of October 10, deposits held by Russian citizens in Kazakh banks totaled $1.42 billion, while in June deposits of all foreigners (Russians and non-Russians) in Kazakhstan amounted to $692 million. dollars.

“We are seriously considering settling here,” said Sergei from Novosibirsk. “My wife is a doctor and has found work. Our children go to a Russian school and seem to enjoy the new situation. I work as a real estate agent and at the same time I am looking for opportunities. We will see which slots are open and where there is demand. I think there are good business opportunities here. So we will try to settle in Kazakhstan.

Armenia

At the end of 2021, Armenia’s expected economic growth for 2022 was expected to be 5%. However, after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, this figure was revised down to 1.6% due to the close economic relations between Armenia and Russia.

On October 18, however, the President of the Armenian Central Bank, Martin Galstian, revised this figure again.

“We are now seeing a huge influx of Russians and expect economic growth of 13% this year,” he said. “We are seeing a 25% growth in human capital in IT. Talented and well-educated people are moving to Armenia, and it could have a long-lasting effect.

More than 100,000 Russians entered Armenia in the first three quarters of 2022. About 300 large companies and 2,500 small companies with Russian capital were registered in Armenia during the same period. In the first half of the year, money transfers from Russia to Armenia amounted to $1.1 billion, according to financial news site ArmInfo/FinPort.

Aleksandr is a 36-year-old Muscovite who moved his digital design studio to Armenia earlier this year.

“After the war started, my team and I decided we had to move,” he explained. “For everyone in the IT industry, the sanctions meant the end of any prospect. Using Chinese equipment – and this is the best case scenario – just wouldn’t work. »

Everyone on his team took the maximum $10,000 in cash with them when they left.

“The rest we transferred via cryptocurrency,” Aleksandr added. “In the spring, Armenian banks freely opened accounts for non-residents, and we took advantage of that.”

He said he quickly registered his company – “It took less than an hour.” And he was able to take advantage of the reduced tax rates that the government put in place for the IT sector. He added that he didn’t care about the staff, because “new people are arriving from Russia every day”.

“It’s a huge bonus,” said Aleksandr. “There are people to discuss ideas with, there is a fruitful environment for communication, and there are people we can grow with.”

Georgia

Georgia has also experienced economic growth with the massive influx of Russians since the invasion of Ukraine. The International Monetary Fund predicted on Oct. 11 that the country’s economy would grow by 8.8 percent this year. National Bank of Georgia head Koba Gvenetadze was even more optimistic, predicting 10% growth.

“Due to the Russian-Ukrainian war and the corresponding sanctions, the flow of migrants to Georgia has increased significantly, which has stimulated the corresponding growth,” Gvenetadze said. told reporters October 26.

The bank also reported that money transfers from Russia to Georgia in the first 10 months of 2022 reached $1.135 billion, more than four times the figure for the same period in 2021. Russian citizens have registered 6,419 companies in Georgia between March and June. The Interior Ministry reported that 112,733 Russians entered Georgia between January and September, adding that the number of Russians in Georgia is now significantly higher due to the announcement of Russian mobilization on September 21.

The influx has pushed up rental costs, particularly in Tbilisi, as low-income families and students face a growing housing crisis. Experts warn that the current boom may not last.

“We have to be aware that all these factors that are boosting growth this year are temporary,” Dmitar Bogov, chief economist for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, told Reuters. (EBRD). “And that does not guarantee sustainable growth in the following years. Caution is therefore called for. »

Oksana, 32, owned a cafe in Novosibirsk. She and her husband made the decision to move to Georgia – where they had spent their honeymoon – in the early days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On March 21, she said, they bought their one-way tickets.

Her husband, a computer scientist, continues to work remotely for his Russian employer. Later this month, she opens a new cafe in Tbilisi with another Russian woman who left Moscow because of the war.

“Georgia is a country of young lovers,” Olga said. “There are huge opportunities here. And the main thing is that there is real freedom. You can do what you want, say what you think…. Create, prosper, open a business, all avenues are open.

She said it only took a few minutes to register her business and she was able to complete all the forms in English.

“You can immediately say that you are a welcome guest…” Olga said. “I hope that we Russian refugees will be able to blend organically into Georgian society, that Georgia will become our new homeland. We have nowhere to go back and I’m so thankful they made us welcome.

Turkey

Turkey’s economy has also been boosted by Russia’s troubles. Turkey is the only NATO member that did not impose sanctions on Russia for the unprovoked invasion. In June, Turkish exports to Russia reached $791 million, a 46% increase over the previous year and the highest monthly volume since 2010. During the year, trade between the two countries are expected to exceed $60 billion.

Turkish economic growth was 7.6% in the second quarter, beating expectations and making Turkey one of the fastest growing major economies in the Group of 20 (G20).

The influx of Russians has led to an increase in demand for residential properties in Turkey. (file photo)

Russians have become the main foreign buyers of residential properties in Turkey this year. The Turkish Government Statistical Agency reported that Russians bought an average of 34 Turkish apartments per day until August. The demand has increased considerably since the announcement of the Russian mobilization.

Under Turkish law, the purchase of real estate worth at least $75,000 allows foreigners to apply for permanent residency.

Roman Kazakov, an investor from St. Petersburg, bought a residence in Antalya this year and moved to Turkey with his wife and three children.

“My wife and I made the decision to leave Russia on February 24,” Kazakov told RFE/RL. “But when you have kids and businesses, you can’t settle down and move somewhere like a lot of people did after the war. You need to prepare a place for a soft landing. So we acted with caution.

By the summer, the couple had moved to Turkey, and Kazakov went to Antalya to buy a house.

“During the summer the prices started to go up, but it wasn’t as bad then as it is now after the mobilization,” he said. “We bought tickets for September 19…. A few days after we left, the prices were already completely different. A friend of mine flew from Moscow to Istanbul on September 25 [four days after the mobilization announcement] for 270,000 rubles [$4,400] per person.”

Kazakov is currently developing a coworking center in Antalya with another Russian who arrived two months before him.

“It’s a new niche,” he said, “very promising, especially now with the influx of new people from Russia and Belarus…. Also, I wanted to create a Russian community and find interesting people. So it turned out that almost right out of the plane I took a new company.

He plans to open the facility soon and hopes to recoup his investment in eight or nine months.

“We’ll see how it goes with coworking,” he added. “If all goes well, I have an idea for my next business…. There are a lot of unfilled niches in Turkey.

Robert Coalson, editor of RFE/RL, contributed to this report.