Switzerland, land of exile for young Russian graduates

Science 10 December, 2016

Expats at an event organsied by Glocals, at the rooftop bar of the Hotel Metrpol. Guests included people from countries including, Russia, Italy, U.S. U.K. Belgium, France, Mexico, Tunisia, Iran, Canada, Germany, as well as a small number of Swiss people.
Depressed by the hardening of the political regime or fleeing the economic crisis, an increasing number of Russians graduates took the road of exile. Meet three candidates

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Switzerland attracts better educated people belonging to the elite of the increasing flow of Russians exiled. This new “brain drain” coincides with the third term of Vladimir Putin, marked by an ultra-conservative shift. Between 120 and 150 000 Russians annually left their homeland since 2013, notes Alexander Grebeniouk, co-author of a study on the emigration of Russia, published by the Citizen Initiatives Committee last October. According Grebeniouk, those who choose Switzerland are mostly scientists, or are part of the elite. They remain invisible in official Russian statistics because they do not do anything to the authorities.

Annexation of the Crimea and political repression
The Times spoke with three candidates to the profile characteristic of those who seek to emigrate to Switzerland. Pavel (24), Inna (28) and Taras (43) each intended to take the plunge in the coming months. They display all three repulsion for the Russian political system and feel that the situation is blocked for long.

“I thought for many years to leave Russia says Taras, entrepreneur in the information technology. But it is the annexation of the Crimea in 2014 and the political repression that ensued made me decide. I participated in major events [opposition] in 2012 and I think have been very lucky not to have been arrested because several friends were. Today, Russian society is demoralized and amorphous. For me it is clear that the situation will get worse. “The economic crisis contributes to discourage the contractor. “Part of our customers went bankrupt and it cost us a very important contract,” says Taras.

“I do not believe that change is possible here”
Recognized professional in the world of public relations, Inna has never campaigned in opposition but personally knows many of its leaders. “I admire them but I do not believe that change is possible here, she says. Power is delighted to see from people like me, who have a European mentality and come with a critical mind. ”

Defining itself as “apolitical”, Pavel, feels otherwise repression, “I’m gay and I do not want to live my whole life hiding, nor be afraid every time I go out to a gay club. My family will never accept me as I am so I prefer to breathe a different air. ”

The choice of Switzerland
But why choose Switzerland? Coming from a very privileged background, Pavel has traveled extensively and Switzerland combines luxury, the area where he works. “I earn a good living in Moscow but I know I can find a job paid equally to Geneva, where I have many relationships, and thus maintain my lifestyle, he said in a French accent-free . The Geneva mentality for me and the quality of life is great. ”

Conversely, Taras has never set foot in Switzerland and does not speak French. “I chose Switzerland because my two partners and I were looking to install aids our start-up in Europe. We searched several cantons Vaud and one of us has testified interest. They have a program to attract IT sector companies. We have already worked with the University of Lausanne. ”

“I think we will have no problem to integrate us”
One of Taras partners are already installed in Lausanne last year, with a wife and children. “It took less than a year to get all the necessary papers, although he does not speak French. My wife, who works as a designer at the Bolshoi, speaks and I think we will have no problem to integrate us. “The man speaks fluent English and has traveled throughout Europe, where many of his friends are already installed. “None of them regrets having taken the plunge,” he notes, before adding: “Our third partner will keep him in Russia and our 15 employees.”

Not all seduced
Through the information he gleaned and the testimony of his partner already installed in Lausanne, Taras has built a very positive image of the canton of Vaud. “Life is much more comfortable than in Moscow, if he imagined. The infrastructure is in better condition. Ecology, health services, lack of crime and corruption offer ideal conditions for life and business. ”

All Russian immigrants are not seduced by Switzerland. Inna, 28, actually follows her banker husband transferred to Zurich. “We will settle permanently in Zurich, and it hardly enchants me. I would have preferred Geneva says this elegant brunette with lanky silhouette. I find boring and Zürich’m not sure I can adapt to the local mentality, especially as I do not speak German. I love to party, and I feel that Moscow will miss you! “