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Continued: Why smart Russians are leaving their country behind

  • Article by: LEONID BERSHIDSKY  , Bloomberg News
  • Last update: June 17, 2013 - 11:33 AM

Gessen’s specific problem is the recent legislative backlash against homosexuals. As a lesbian living openly with her partner, she fears losing custody of her children.

Popular columnist Oleg Kashin, member of the anti-Putin opposition’s coordinating council, said he had moved to Switzerland at least temporarily, in part because he was finding it hard to find work in Moscow. “I think the trend is beginning,” he told TV Rain. “People are treading the path to the West.”

Irina Khakamada, a liberal politician who once ran for president against Putin, summed up the new trend on Snob.ru: “It looks like it’s time for all honest and principled professionals to pack their bags. A sad outcome.”

In an interconnected world, emigration is hardly as final or crippling as it could be in Soviet times. Sberbank’s shareholders on May 31 voted overwhelmingly to elect Guriev to the supervisory board, taking advantage of the fact that the bank had not had enough advance notice to strike him off the ballot. Even the bank’s CEO, German Gref, received fewer votes. Gref immediately said Guriev would take part in board meetings via a video link.

Perversely, the Russian government, which has forced Guriev out, will end up paying him through one of its business entities: Sberbank supervisory board members receive compensation of about $140,000 a year.

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Leonid Bershidsky, an editor and novelist, is Moscow correspondent for Bloomberg View’s World View.

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