OSW Report

The new wave of Russian political emigration to Germany

Organisations, activities, prospects

At present, Russia is experiencing the biggest wave of politically-motivated emigration in its modern history. Thousands of individuals (including oppositionists, activists, human rights defenders and independent journalists) were forced to leave the country because of the imminent repression they had been facing.

Germany is one of the most attractive destinations for Russian political emigrants. The German authorities are willing to provide Russian democratic opposition and civic activists with long-term support. Russian political emigrants in Germany are involved in facilitating the relocation of individuals who face repression in Russia, in helping Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees, and in reconstructing and developing Russian civil society organisations in exile. These groups intend to maintain their contacts with Russia and to continue human rights and grassroots democracy projects aimed at those who stayed in the country. 

The scale of emigration as well as its international and domestic political context require an efficient and well-thought-out reaction from the West. Russian civil society in exile may serve as an important support base for Russia’s political transformation in the future. One of the most important lines of action should involve supporting independent media outlets which are capable of breaking through neo-totalitarian censorship and reaching Russian society with an objective message regarding the war and the crimes perpetrated by Putin’s regime.