When Russia’s President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of neighbouring Ukraine in February 2022, he plunged his country and his citizens into an ongoing period of economic decline and global isolation. He also exposed himself and his government to increased political instability. On day one of the war, he ramped up Russia’s propaganda machine and began conducting country-wide crackdowns on signs of protest and dissent. The government has imposed travel restrictions on its citizens, as nearly 4 million Russians were reported to have left the country by early May 2022.
Many of those who have left belong to the generation of outward-looking entrepreneurs and creatives who have lived, worked, or studied outside of Russia in the past – the same people who were driving Russia’s economic and cultural sectors until a few months ago. This is the group that has been marginalised most by Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, and is most likely to support the anti-war movement.
Is Russia facing a ‘brain-drain’? What does this mean for the country’s dwindling economy, and for the anti-war movement? What impact have Western and global sanctions had on Russia’s economy and society, have they gone far enough, and are the right people feeling the strain? And will Russia ever be able to repair its relations with the rest of the world?
Dr James Rodgers – James is the author most recently of Assignment Moscow: Reporting on Russia from Lenin to Putin. James worked in Russia as a journalist for Reuters and the BBC for long periods from the late Soviet period until 2009. He now teaches in the Department of Journalism at City, University of London where he is also Assistant Vice-President (Global Engagement).
On the panel:
William Browder – William is the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, Head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign and Author of Red Notice and Freezing Order. William was the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005, when he was denied entry to the country and declared “a threat to national security” for exposing corruption in Russian state-owned companies. Following the unjust imprisonment of his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, for uncovering massive fraud committed by the Russian government, William has sought justice outside of Russia. William started a global campaign for governments around the world to impose targeted visa bans and asset freezes on human rights abusers and highly corrupt officials. The United States was the first to impose these targeted sanctions with the passage of the Sergei Magnitsky Accountability Act in 2012, followed by the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act in 2016. Since then, Canada, United Kingdom, the Baltic states, the European Union and most recently Australia, have passed their own versions of the Magnitsky Act. William is currently working to have similar legislation passed in other countries worldwide including New Zealand and Japan, to name a few. William published his first book Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice in February 2015. A New York Time bestseller, the book focuses on Browder’s years spent in Russia, the Russian government’s attacks on Hermitage Capital Management and his responses to Russian corruption and his support of the investigation into the death of his attorney Sergei Magnitsky. A TV series, based on the book, is in development. His second book Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath released in April 2022.
Nataliya Vasilyeva – Nataliya is the current Russia correspondent for the Daily Telegraph. She was born in Moscow and studied in UK, and has covered Russian affairs since 2008. Before the Daily Telegraph, she worked for the Associated Press. As a Moscow correspondent, Nataliya covered Vladimir Putin’s consolidation of power in the 2010s, an exodus of Russian Muslims to join the IS, the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014-2015, and Belarus’ nationwide uprising in 2020. She fled Moscow in March on the day the Russian parliament passed a law that introduced war censorship, barring media from using the word “war” in reference to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She is now based in Istanbul, covering Russia and Ukraine remotely.