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By Paul Goble for “Windows on Eurasia”:
July 2 – For the first time since the 1990s, the number of Jews emigrating from Russia to Israel has gone up dramatically, doubling between 2013 and 2014 to 4685. But this new wave is different from its predecessors in that its members are younger, better educated, and almost exclusively from Moscow.
Moreover, this new group is convinced that they have no future in Russia because “after Putin, there will be some other Putin,” a dramatic change in expectations compared to how many Jews and others felt in the 1990s when they were pessimistic about Russia in the short term but optimistic in the longer run (ehorussia.com/new/node/11131).
The emigration of Jews from Russia is only a small part of the total number of Russian citizens who are leaving for permanent residence abroad, a figure that is also increasing. In the first nine months of 2014, 203,659 people left, compared to 120,756 who departed during the corresponding period of a year earlier.
Officials of Israel’s absorption ministry view this year as a turning point given that the number of Jews from Russian seeking to obtain Israeli citizenship is two and a half times greater than for any year since the end of the 1990s. And they also see dramatic changes in the composition of this flow.
Ekho Rossii interviewed several of those who have moved to Israel. Their comments say a great deal about broader processes in the Russian Federation. Dramatist Mikhail Kaluzhny said he had wanted to leave in 1991 but decided against it until finishing his university coursework.
Then on graduation, he said, he delayed going because “all the most interestsing” developments where occurring then in Russia. “Why leave?” But “now,” Kaluzhny said, he had made the decision to leave because the surrounding political, emotional and everyday environment had alienated him and left him with little hope for Russia.
He said that his departure was “directly connected with politics.” First of all, he visited the Maidan in Kyiv and recognized that no such protest was ever likely to happen in Russia. Then the Russian government blocked foreign grants which were critical to the operation of his profession.
Finally, “after Crimea,” he said, his family was driven by “a desire to distance itself” from all this, above all from the [Russian] government.”........................
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