Russia … The brain drain escalates and warnings of an academic “famine” | Political news

Moscow- The Russian Academy of Sciences continues to sound the alarm about the sharp acceleration in the emigration of scientists and other higher education specialists, and the aggravation of the phenomenon of “brain drain” from the country and the achievement of record and dangerous levels, which has achieved. a new level after the unprecedented package of sanctions in terms of size, shape and sectors taken by the Western system against Moscow as a result of the war in Ukraine.

While Russian economists make a “small” reservation that the problem of “brain drain” is not the most acute for Russia right now, Russian academics and scientists insist that the country will not be able to develop and grow without innovation and creativity, which – in their opinion – is impossible Without the appropriate “human capital”, as well as the impact on the “health” of the Russian economy.

According to the Scientific Secretary of the Russian Academy of Sciences Nikolai Dolgoshkin, about 70,000 highly qualified research scientists and specialists left Russia from 2014 to the current year, a cumulative increase of 5 times that was the case in 2012.

According to him, this pace has clearly begun to appear since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, pointing out that “Russia is the only developed country in the world in which the number of scientists has been declining for several decades in a row. “


According to Dolgoshkin, every scientist who leaves the country costs the Russian economy an average of 300-400 thousand dollars. Moreover, this amount does not include profits lost as a result of the departure of the owners of potentially lucrative discoveries and innovations, etc. In general, the loss of the Russian economy due to the migration of human capital amounts to ten billion dollars annually.

State statistics confirm these conclusions. According to the Federal Statistical Service Rosstat, in 2012 about 14,000 people with higher education emigrated from Russia, including 234 doctoral holders and scientists. Six years later, in 2018, the number of professionals with university degrees left 68.7 thousand.


However, these official figures are just the tip of the iceberg, as indicated by an article by demographic expert Alexei Raksha, who worked until July last year as a consultant for the department of demographic accounts of the department of population and health statistics at the government . says that according to the data of the countries to which Russians leave, The number of those who left for permanent residence is several times higher than the official number of departures, according to local data, with a difference of about 5 to 7 times.

Raksha explains that in addition to the country’s international isolation, the brain drain may become Russia’s most realistic long-term problem.

Brain leakage is defined as the migration of highly skilled professionals to developed countries; Looking for better living conditions, higher wages, access to advanced technologies and a stable political system.

According to the “Haber” website, which specializes in publishing analytical articles and ideas related to information technology, business and the Internet, in March 2022, 33% of Russian IT professionals will be looking for jobs in foreign companies, with the potential to move.

Scientific Training Center in Moscow (Anatolia)

due to war

As for the Russian Border and Immigration Service, it in turn announced that nearly 4 million Russians had left the country in the first quarter of this year, an influx equal to almost twice what it was last year, and it is against the background recorded. of the “Russian special military operation” announced by President Vladimir Putin is in Ukraine, but the department’s data did not name the percentage of specialists among those.

Of course, the phrase “4 million over” should not be read as 4 million IT professionals, because among them there are many other professions, and many of them have simply returned home.

However, the gap remains clear in the actual number of immigrant brains, in addition to the fact that the phenomenon itself exists, especially considering that Russia was a leader in the number of scientists in the world in 1990, before the number of these last year. decreased by 65%, with 70,000 of them leaving the country.

As for the widespread newspaper “RBC”, it refers to the departure of a large number of Russian scientists to the post-Soviet countries. Among the destinations popular with them: Turkey, Egypt, a number of Arab Gulf countries and Asian countries (India and Indonesia), but the United States was not at the forefront, after it – along with the United Kingdom and Germany – the most popular destinations for Russian powers.

product of chaos

The phenomenon of “brain drain” clearly began to emerge with the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early nineties of the last century, and was initially linked to the mass emigration of intellectuals (scientists, engineers, etc.), and the main factor behind it was the deep crisis affecting the local science sector, and the chaos that accompanied the country’s transition to a market economy, which opened borders and allowed freedom of movement, coupled with reduced spending on research and academic studies.

In this context, the data from the Central Archives Division indicate that the budget for spending on research and science development decreased by 15-18 times between 1985 and 1995.

Currently, in addition to the tangible impact of Western sanctions and the associated foreign companies and organizations leaving Russia, and the acceleration of the process of cutting foreign representation in relations with Russian companies, including technology and financial companies, the state of dissatisfaction is under highly qualified scientists and specialists and the reluctance of many of them to leave the country; It also goes back to factors that existed before the series of Western sanctions.

Russian President Putin visits a medical research center in St. Petersburg  Petersburg
The Russian president (center) visits a scientific research center in St. Petersburg. Petersburg (Reuters)

Extra dimensions

A study prepared by the Moscow Institute of International Relations suggests that despite the importance of brain drainage, forms of “migration” – such as the leaking of ideas – that are not accompanied by a physical movement of the mind that it does not generate, also has become a new challenge.

The study states that foreign institutions benefit from this loophole and offer grant programs and build “bridges of cooperation” with Russian scientists that enable them to cover their expenses. And she goes on to say that Russia loses between $ 3 billion and $ 4 billion annually as a result of this “cooperation” because manufacturers of intellectual and scientific products are unable to sell it, and as a result they usually turn to the services of European and American intermediaries.

academic famine

“Smart migration” has also exacerbated labor shortages in industries that require highly skilled experts. For example, the total number of workers in the science sector in Russia decreased by 35.5 thousand people between 2013 and 2020.

As a result, over the past three years, Russia has fallen from fourth to sixth place in the world in terms of the number of researchers, and this trend is contrary to the objectives of the National Science Support Project, which increased their number by 35 thousand people by 2024.

Visa aas

International affairs researcher Dmitry Babich says that the United States is still trying to prevent the development of high technology in Russia, while at the same time improving its economy by using special tactics to deprive Russia of its top scientists using visa “bait ”.

Babich explains – in an interview with Al Jazeera Net – that Washington continues to facilitate the transfer of the best Russian specialists with experience in the communications sector, space technology, cyber security, nuclear engineering, artificial intelligence, space technology and other specialized scientific fields to the United States , which is the same strategy that the United States tested in the Soviet era.

Hence the computational conclusion reached by the Institute of Statistical Research and Knowledge Economics of the Higher School of Economics, which indicates that although advanced production technologies developed in Russia nearly doubled in 10 years from 864 to 1620, and that in 2019, 34,000 patents has been issued. , almost 4,000 more than in 2010, however, the total number of applications for them during this period decreased by 10%.

At the bottom of the list

At the same time, Russia’s global share in terms of research output is only 0.9%. In comparison, the share of China – the world leader in this standard – reached 40.4% of all patents, followed by the United States (15.9%), Japan (13.8%), South Korea (7 , 6%) and Germany (5.4). %).

In addition, the total number of participants in research and inventions has decreased by 7.3% over the past ten years, ie to 682.5 thousand people, while the number of published research has almost tripled, from 40.7 thousand to 115.9 thousand. Thus, Russia’s contribution to the global flow of publications has increased from 1.6 percent to 3.5 percent, according to the institute’s 2021 data.

to withdraw

At the same time, Russian writers are quoted less than the world average (3.5 times versus 6.2 times). In terms of the number of articles cited in official scientific publications, Russia ranks 12th between Spain and South Korea (73,400), China tops the list with 540,000 articles and the United States with 461,000 articles, according to a study published last year. by the newspaper Kommersant. Economic.

According to the study, domestic expenditure on research and development in the country’s economy over the past ten years amounted to 1.13 trillion rubles (about $ 230 billion), or 1.03% of GDP. This number decreased compared to 2010, when the ratio was 1.13%.


Faced with these challenges, Russia has taken a package of measures to curb the country’s ‘brain drain’ in the information technology sector. In March, the government announced measures to support employees of IT companies, including obtaining a preferential mortgage, postponing military service, and exempting all Russian IT companies from inspections and paying income tax for three years.

The government has also drawn up a roadmap for the implementation of urgent measures that provide for a balance in the conditions of international competition, provide support to Russian researchers and inventors, by reducing the expenses of information technology companies, the demand for Russian IT products to regulate and support and support the marketing of Russian hardware and software systems.

This comes after foreign IT companies began leaving the Russian market against the backdrop of Western sanctions imposed after Moscow announced on February 24 the launch of the military operation in Ukraine.

On March 5, the US software companies “IBM” and “Adobe” announced the termination of sales of products and services in Russia, one day after the American information technology company “Microsoft” itself made the decision.

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