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Russian brain drain: Myths v. reality
Andrei V. Korobkov
, Zhanna A. Zaionchkovskaia
Department of Political Science, Middle Tennessee State University, Box 29, 1301 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, USA
Laboratory on Migration, Institute of Economic Forecasting, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Available online 13 August 2012
The paper analyzes the scale and dynamics of the Russian brain drain, one of the most
politicized and hotly debated aspects of the post-Soviet migration. The major issues under
consideration include the durability of the intellectual migration ﬂow, its structural
characteristics, and territorial orientation.
Relying on the Russian State Committee on Statistics data, the research indicates that the
real scale of intellectual migration is signiﬁcantly smaller than is usually expected, even
though in some regions and particular ﬁelds of Basic Sciences, including Mathematics,
Physics, Biology, and Chemistry, and a limited number of research centers, brain drain has
indeed acquired a magnitude threatening the existence of the established academic
schools. At the same time, huge disparities in terms of the ability of specialists from
different branches of science to ﬁnd adequate jobs abroad are evident. Many academic
subﬁelds, including Humanities and Social Sciences, and most of the Russian regions show
extremely low levels of intellectual migration and engagement in the international
academic exchanges. The result is the practical exclusion of many branches of science and
the majority of the Russian regions from the international academic system.
Hence the goal of the Russian policy should be not limiting the intellectual migration, but
rather capitalizing on such of its positive aspects as the establishment of long term
international academic contacts and the formation of the Russian elite diasporas abroad,
actively engaged in cooperation with the RF academic institutions. Of special interest for
the authors are the recent attempts by the RF leadership to encourage the return of the
Russian academics. The authors conclude that a more effective policy could be based on
the use of diverse forms of cooperation with the Russian academics abroad, both with or
without their permanent relocation to the country, providing for the inclusion of the
Russian science into the international academic networks.
Ó2012 The Regents of the University of California. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights
The beginning of the twenty-ﬁrst century was marked by the changes in the character of external migration and the
growing role of the socio-economic factors in deﬁning the character and intensity of migration ﬂows to and from Russia. In
addition to being the major post-Soviet country of immigration,
the Russian Federation (RF) also serves as a transition point
In the period 1992–2007, Russia alone received more than eleven million migrants from the post-Soviet countries with net immigration of about six million-
dcompared with 1.5 million in 1981–90 (Federal Statistical Service, 2006,425;Federal’naia Sluzhba Gosudarstvennoi Statistiki, 2007,28;Vishnevskii, 2008,230–4;
Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect
Communist and Post-Communist Studies
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/postcomstud
0967-067X/$ –see front matter Ó2012 The Regents of the University of California. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Communist and Post-Communist Studies 45 (2012) 327–341
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for those attempting to use its territory in order to reach the West
and generates sizable emigration ﬂows: during 1989–
2004, 1.3 million Russian citizens obtained permits for a permanent emigration to the West (Vishnevskii, 2006, 325).
Along with the dynamics of migration, its forms are also changing. In particular, due to the complexity of the legal
and socio-economic situation and the escalating restrictiveness of immigration policies in the receiving countries,
permanent migration is increasingly substituted or supplemented by its various temporary forms. Emigration from the
RF outside the post-Soviet region declined from its peak of 100,000 in 1995 to 33,000 in 2005 and just 11,500 in 2009.
Simultaneously, external emigration started to lose its ethnic character; in 2006, for example, the share of the ethnic
Russiansinthisgroupofmigrantshasfortheﬁrst time exceeded 50.1 percent, compared with 24.0 percent in 1993,
whereas the share of the Jews declined from 15.8 percent in 1993 to 1.9 percent in 20 06. In 2007, their respective shares
were 53.7 percent and 2.0 percent (see Table 1 ). Of the major minority groups, only Germans retained their high share
among emigrants –13.3 percent in 2006 and 11.4 percent in 2007 while it was 24 percent yet in 2004 (Vishnevskii, 2009,
232; Vishnevskii, 2010, 259; Vishnevskii, 2011, 252). This trend was based on both the shrinking size of these ethnic
diasporas in Russia
and a more restrictive return policies adopted by a number of states, ﬁrst of all, Germany.
Respectively, serious restructuring took place in regard to the major receiving states: the combined share of the US,
Germany, and Israel has declined from about 90 percent in the 1990s to less than 60 percent in 2008. Thus the
signiﬁcance of ethnic factors in deﬁning the structure and territorial orientation of external emigration ﬂows has visibly
declined (Vishnevskii, 2010,264).
Thus already in the second half of the 1990s, labor migration has become the most massive migration ﬂow in Russia,
surpassing the repatriation and ethnic migration that were the leading ﬂow in the ﬁrst half of the 1990s.
This type of
migration movement has acquired a large scale following the ofﬁcial recognition of the freedom of exit and, to a much lesser
extent, entrance. Other important stimuli included the beginning of market reforms that created respective opportunities,
and the falling living standards and growing unemployment that generated the necessity to seek alternative sources of
income. All the post Soviet states experienced a large decline in GDP, on average by about 54 percent by the middle of the
1990s (Fischer and Sahay, 2000). The temporary stabilization of 1996–97 was interrupted by the devastating Russian ﬁnancial
crisis of 1998. Thus even in 2002, at the very beginning of the Russian economic rebound, its GDP per capita was 74.8 percent
of that in 1990 (Vlaskin and Lenchuk, 2006, 13, 179).
Among the results of these processes was a drastic decline in the state support for research and educational spheres. By the
beginning of the current century, Russia’s share in the world high tech production was below 1 percent, compared with 36
percent for the United States and 30 percent for Japan. During the post-Soviet period, R&D expenditures declined more than
ﬁvefold and have reached the level of the beginning of the 1960s. In 2002, the per capita research and development (R&D)
expenditures in Russia were about ten times lower than in the United States ($98.6 and $964 respectively) (Vlaskin and
Lenchuk, 2006,200;Vitkovskaya and Panarin, 2000,109–51).
The level of research equipment endowment in Russia was
80 times lower than in the West, while in terms of the Western research literature availability, the gap was reaching 100 times
(Zharenova et al., 2002,8–9).
At the beginning of the current century, the share of R&D expenditures in the Russian GDP was 1 percent,
2.69 percent in the United States and 2.98 percent in Japan. Russia’s share in the world information equipment exports was
0.04 percent, compared with the United States’13 percent. Russia ranked seventieth in the world in the competitiveness of its
industrial products (Vlaskin and Lenchuk, 2006, 13). The average monthly salary of research personnel was 104.5 percent of
the RF average, slightly increasing to 118.6 percent by 2009 –22,104.3 Rubles, or about $762 (Tsentr issledovanii i statistiki
nauki, 2010, 14). Not surprisingly, the external emigration of scholars is paralleled by a large-scale “internal emigration”
into the activities not corresponding to their education and professional qualiﬁcations
: just one out of ten researchers
leaving the academic sphere is migrating abroad (Ushkalov and Malakha,1999).
Thus during 1990–2009, the overall number
of researchers engaged in R&D activities has declined by 61.8 percent, while the RF balance of foreign technological payments
has changed from a positive $20.6 million yet on 2000 to a negative $865.8 million in 2009 (Tsentr issledovanii i statistiki
nauki, 2010, 46, 138–139).
It should be noted here that most of the legal external immigrants come to Russia from the other post Soviet states: during 1989–2002, only 50.5
thousand came to the RF legally from outside the post-Soviet region (Vishnevskii, 2006, 308).
This is a relatively rare, although quickly expanding role: the number of countries serving as both importers and exporters of labor migrants, has
increased from four in 1970 to ﬁfteen in 1990 to twenty-ﬁve in 2008 (Ivakhniuk, 2011,11; International Labor Organization, 2010b).
The number of the Jews in Russia, for instance, has declined from 536.8 thousand in 1989 to 229.9 thousand in 2002 (Vishnevskii, 2010, 264).
Characteristic in this sense is the fact that in 2004, only 4.4 percent of immigrants to Russia in the age of fourteen or older claimed the worsening of
interethnic relations as the major reason to migrate, compared with close to two-thirds in 1991. As regards the legal permanent immigration, compared
with the peak, 1994, the migrant inﬂow to the RF from the post-Soviet states has declined about tenfold: 93.1 thousand in 2003 compared with 914,000 in
1994. Consequently, it started to increase again, reaching 257.1 thousand in 2007 (Vishnevskii, 20 09, 222; Vishnevskii, 2010, 259).
The respective 2008 ﬁgures were $166.7 and $1307.6 (Tsentr issledovanii i statistiki nauki, 2010, 214).
Rising to 1.07 percent in 2005 and 1.24 percent, in 2009 (Tsentr issledovanii i statistiki nauki, 2010, 13).
By 1999, only a quarter of approximately 240 thousand of those having doctoral or master’s degrees, worked in their professions (Smorodkin, 1999,1).During
2000–2009, the number of research personnel per 10,000 employed in the economic sphere declined from 138 to 110 (Tsentr issledovaniii statistiki nauki, 2010,13).
Similar processes develop in other post Soviet states: more than 1200 researchers left the Academy of Sciences of Moldova during 1990–1997 –this
representsa 22.6 percent decline. Meanwhile, only 34.6 percentof those went abroad; othersfound jobs outside the academy(Sidorenko and Koman, 2000,153).
A.V. Korobkov, Z.A. Zaionchkovskaia / Communist and Post-Communist Studies 45 (2012) 327–341328
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The economic growth at the beginning of the current century and the governmental policies, directed at the rebuilding of
the Russian military-industrial complex have led to a relative improvement of the situation,
but the problems of the Russian
science remain acute. The recent slowdown of the economic growth
further aggravates the situation and reverses the
positive trends of the last decade.
1. The Russian intellectual migration patterns
The intellectual migration of the Russian scholars represents an important component of the current labor migration ﬂow,
especially considering the fact the RF still possesses a huge academic infrastructure and accounts for up to 12 percent of the
world’s research personnel (Vitkovskaya and Panarin, 2000, 111). The desire of the academics and students to go abroad and
stay there for a relatively long time is based on a number of factors originating both in Russia and in the receiving countries.
The push factors include not only the academics’low salaries; they also involve such issues as their inadequate social
standing, the absence of demand for their abilities, the lack of the necessary equipment, poor working conditions, and the
unclear prospects in Russia.
In the West, the major pull factors include higher living standards, respect for professionals, and
the opportunity to continue professional activity in one’sﬁeld of study. In the beginning of the 1990s, 62 percent of those
expressing desire to emigrate from the RF named as the major reason the potentially higher salaries abroad; and 56 percent,
their inability to realize themselves professionally at home (Vitkovskaya and Panarin, 2000,119–20).
In general, labor migration of scholars has a number of important positive aspects both for the home and the host
countries of migrants. It represents a reliable way of establishing effective international contacts, the academics’inclusion
into the global intellectual labor market, and the universalization of science and knowledge. In the long run, free movement of
scholars can be seen as the most important precondition for the development of science. Clearly, it also represents the most
frequent strategy for the scientists’permanent emigration, allowing them to regain opportunities for the continuation of their
At the end of the 1980s, for example, about a half of the scientists who came to the US to work there on the basis of
temporary contracts, and more than a half of the international students who graduated from the American universities,
remained in the US permanently (Ikonnikov, 1993, 45).
This trend became especially visible after World War II, in the
framework of the Marshall Plan, and became a very important factor in the expansion of the US academic and economic
potential, and thus an essential component of American “soft power.”
Intellectual emigration can also have some positive, and often ignored impact on the home countries of migrants. It creates
new contacts with the international academic and business community, frequently, without any ﬁnancial or organizational
participation of the governmental bodies; inspires the formation of international academic schools and student exchanges,
forms inﬂuential ethnic elite diasporas abroad, stimulates the inﬂow of foreign technology and knowledge back to the country,
Emigrants from Russia outside the NIS by nationality, 1993–2007.
Nationality 1993 1995 2000 2004 2006 2007 1993–2007
1000 % 1000 % 1000 % 1000 % 1000 % 1000 % 1000 %
Russians 21.3 24.0 28.8 28.8 25.8 41.4 19.2 45.6 9.15 50.1 8.0 53.7 339.4 34.8
Germans 47.5 53.5 51.3 51.3 35.2 22.6 12.2 29.3 2.4 13.3 1.7 11.4 372.2 38.3
Jews 14.0 15.8 12.8 12.8 4.5 7.2 0.7 1.7 0.35 1.9 0.3 2.0 90.5 9.5
Others 6.0 6.7 7.1 7.1 9.4 15.1 9.9 23.4 6.2 34.7 4.9 32.9 144.5 18.4
Total 88.8 100.0 100.0 100.0 62.3 100.0 42.0 100.0 18.1 100.0 14.9 100.0 946.5 100.0
Sources: Vishnevskii, 2006, 328; Vishnevskii, 2008, 243–6; Vishnevskii, 2009, 232.
The ofﬁcially registered emigrants, that is, those who received exit permits and abandoned their residence registration.
For example, the number of patents registered in the RF during 2000–2009, increased two-fold: from 17,592 to 34,824 (with the number of patents
received by the Russian inventors increasing from 14,444 to 26,294) while the share of the technologically active enterprises grew from 1.6 percent in2003
to 4.1 percent in 2009 (Tsentr issledovanii i statistiki nauki, 2010, 14, 120, 193).
In general, Russian economic growth indicators remain inconsistent: according to the Federal Service of State Statistics data, Russian GDP grew by 8.5
percent in 2007 and 5.2 percent in 2008, declined by 7.8 percent in 2009, and grew again by 4.0 percent in 2010. The respective industrial growth rates for
these years were 6.8 percent, 0.6 percent, minus 9.3 percent, and 5.9 percent (Federal’naia Sluzhba Gosudarstvennoi Statistiki, 2011b).
During the period 1991–2009, the number of professional employees in the research sphere fell from 1,496,000 to 742,433 while the number of
researchers declined from 878,000 to 369,237 (Vlaskin and Lenchuk, 2006, 126; Tsentr issledovanii i statistiki nauki, 2010, 13). An earlier research con-
ducted by Sergei Smorodkin indicated that during 1986–1997, the overall number of people employed by the Russian research organizations decreased 2.4
times: from 3.4 million to 1.4 million (Sautin, 2000,13;Smorodkin, 1999, 31).
Highly qualiﬁed immigrant workers make up 9.9 percent of the total employed population in Australia; 7.3 percent, in Canada, and 3.2 percent, in the
US. In the EU, the share of highly qualiﬁed non-European workers is 1.7 percent (Dixon, 2007, 2). Still, the major world economies continue to experience
the shortage of highly skilled labor force. In Germany, for instance, the economic effect of such shortage is estimated at $27 billion, an equivalent of1
percent of the national GDP (Benoit, 20 07).
Joseph Nye deﬁnes soft power as “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments. It arises from the attractiveness
of a country’s culture, political ideals, and policies.[and thus] rests on the ability to shape the preferences of the others”(Nye, 2004, x; 5).
A.V. Korobkov, Z.A. Zaionchkovskaia / Communist and Post-Communist Studies 45 (2012) 327–341 329
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and in the long run, provides for the return of at least some migrating academics to their home institutions with new skills
that they can share with their compatriots. This way, along with the ﬂow of remittances, intellectual migration can bring real
ﬁnancial and other beneﬁts to the home countries of migrants.
Meanwhile, at present, no more than a quarter of the Russian students studying abroad intend to go back to Russia. Forty-
ﬁve percent plan to stay abroad,though they do not completely rule out the possibility of working in Russia for some period of
time (Ledeneva and Tiuriukanova, 2002,100–1). The survey of the post-Soviet scientists who left for the West, conducted in
the beginning of the 1990s, has shown that the majority of them –about 70 percent –were adapting there relatively easily,
regardless of the language problems and the complications in terms of interaction at the work place (Valiukov, 1994,23–4).
According to S. Egerev (1998), professor of Russian Institute for Economics, Policy and Law in Science and Technology, the
overall number of the Russian scientists working abroad at the end of 1998 was about 30 thousand, of whom 14 to 18
thousand were engaged in the fundamental sciences (“Mozgi Utekaiushchie, 1998”). Other, more recent estimates show
between 50,000 and 200,000 Russian academics working abroad (Vlaskin and Lenchuk, 2006, 203). Still, it is hard to
distinguish between those who became real emigrants, that is, acquired a permanent living permit, and those who are legally
considered to be labor migrants, but essentially live abroad permanently.
Either way, the scientists’labor migration deserves
a thorough attention both as a precondition and one of the channels of brain drain and as a means of the international
cooperation in the academic sphere.
2. The Russian state committee on statistics data
In 2002–2003, the Russian State Committee on Statistics has for the ﬁrst and up to this moment –the last –time conducted
research on the number of the Russian scholars traveling to work abroad through the ofﬁcial channels. The following section
is based on its data analysis.
The research project covered those Russian organizations and companies engaged in research activities that were listed in
the RF Uniﬁed State Register of Enterprises and Organizations. In 2001, there were 4037 such organizations. They had 885.6
thousand employees, of whom 422.2 thousand were the researchers (Gosudarstvennyi Komitet RF po Statistike, 2003).
Small enterprises were not covered by this project, because they were not a part of the State Register and did not report
statistic information of this kind.
The loss of information resulting from the absence of data for this group is relatively signiﬁcant: such centers frequently
have intensive international ties, especially if they receive support from the outside sponsors. At the beginning of 2002, there
were 28.5 thousand small enterprises which activities were related to science and academic services. They employed 107.8
thousand or one-eights of the personnel of organizations listed in the Register. Close to two-thirds of these small enterprises
(65.2 percent) had a staff of ﬁve people or less. Every ﬁfth organization (20.7 percent) employed between six and ten people;
5.6 percent, between 11 and 15 people; while the remaining 8.5 percent, employed more than 15.
This statistics included research on the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), branch academies, ministerial research
institutions and groups, universities, and independent research centers, regardless of their institutional afﬁliation and form of
ownership. The research project covered labor trips conducted by the invitation of the receiving side, sponsored by the
researchers’home organizations, and those based on the contracts or exchange programs –be it a travel for work or
temporary specialization. In order to distinguish between the labor migration and the short-term trips to academic meetings
and specializations, a three-month minimal period was chosen as a limit for staying abroad.
Considering the speciﬁcs of research activity, the starting point could have been moved to at least one-month stay. At
the same time, the three months limit has its own advantages. It presumes the establishment of relatively stable contacts.
It is not highly probable that a completely unknown person would be invited for such a long term. Besides that, long trips
are usually conducted with the ofﬁcial permission of the leadership at the academic’s home institution. Meanwhile, under
the existing level of discipline in the Russian personnel policy, short trips are frequently not even reported to the home
institution’s administration. This is especially true if such trips are ﬁnanced by the receiving side. Therefore, they are rarely
ofﬁcially registered. Thus using three-month trips as a starting point provides for a more complete and reliable
The data are differentiated based on the regions of exit (federal units of the Russian Federation, economic regions, and
federal districts), the receiving states, the goals of the trip, the types of the home research organizations, the branches of
science, and the areas of economic activity. The project represents the ﬁrst systematic information for the analysis of the
international contacts and brain drain from Russia. It deals with those researchers who went abroad using the ofﬁcial channels
According to some Russian estimates, the number of academics working abroad on the basis of a temporary contract is four times higher than of those
who ofﬁcially emigrated to the West (Dezhina, 2003, 66). In addition, permanent emigration does not by itself guarantee getting a job corresponding to
one’s qualiﬁcation. Among those highly qualiﬁed specialists who came to Israel, only 27.8 percent worked in their ﬁeld and at a level corresponding to their
qualiﬁcation after three years of living in that country (Eckstein and Weiss, 1997,6–7). Characteristic in this sense is the example of Bar-Ilan University
Professor Avraham Trakhtman, who has recently found a solution to an abstract “Road Coloring”math problem that could not be resolved for thirty-eight
years. Trakhtman emigrated to Israel in 1990 and worked as a guard for ﬁve years, being unable to ﬁnd a job corresponding to his qualiﬁcations (Siegel-
By 2009, there were 3536 organizations with 742.4 thousand employees, of whom 369.2 thousand were the researchers, that is, the respective ﬁgures
declined by 12.4 percent, 16.2 percent, and 12.6 percent correspondingly (Tsentr issledovanii i statistiki nauki, 2010, 13).
A.V. Korobkov, Z.A. Zaionchkovskaia / Communist and Post-Communist Studies 45 (2012) 327–341330
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and remained on their organization’s staff. They intended to continue their professional activities for a relatively long period
of time and had the authorization (or at least the acquiescence) of their superiors.
Those who resigned from their organizations before or during their foreign trips were not considered in this project.
Meanwhile, in recent years, the opportunities for such trips have declined because of a serious tightening of immigration
regimes in the US and Western Europe. In the EU countries, stricter control has resulted in more than two-fold decline of
immigration already reached in the 1990s: from 1.5 million a year to 680 thousand (Mitchener, 2002; A2).
measures aimed at decreasing immigration, especially the undocumented one, were also taken in the US following the 9/11.
Of special importance there is the factor of international terrorism.
Thus the ofﬁcial statistics of travel abroad for 2002, on
which the aforementioned research project is based, are obviously more comprehensive, exhaustive, and precise than was the
case even at the end of the last century.
3. The intensity of contacts
In 2002, using the ofﬁcial channels, traveling abroad were 2922 Russian researchers from 324 organizations, or just 0.7
percent of the overall number of researchers and 0.8 percent from the listed organizations in their ﬁelds of study. It is hard to
describe such contacts as intensive. These statistics create serious doubts about the seriousness of the frequently cited brain
drain from Russia. While such long-term trips serve usually as a precondition for emigration, their overall number, as one can
see, is relatively small.
If one relates the number of those traveling abroad to the overall number of researchers employed by the organizations
sending people on such trips, the share will visibly increase –to 5 percent. This is a pretty large number, especially considering
the length of their absence from the work site. Besides, it is quite probable that long-term trips are paralleled by the more
frequent short-term ones.
Comparing the intensity of contacts in the active organizations (5 percent) with the average one (0.7 percent), one can conclude
that the Russian research organizations can be clearly divided into two very differentand unequal groups –averysmallonehaving
pretty intensive contacts with the foreign countries, and the majority of organizations, having practically no such contacts.
People with the degrees of a Doctor or a Candidate of Science have higher chances to ﬁnd work abroad.
shares among those researchers who managed to go abroad were 18 percent (527) and 55.8 percent (1631). This is close to
three-quarters of all those who went abroad. Nevertheless, they constituted a very small share of those having such degrees in
Russia (2.5 percent of all Doctors and 2 percent, of Candidates of Science).
It would be hard to describe the international contacts of the Russian scientists as partnerships. The available data contain
practically no information concerning the ﬁnancial support for their trips. Nevertheless, without a risk of a serious mistake, it
would be possible to expect the trips on the invitation of the receiving side to be ﬁnanced by it. This is close to a half of all
trips: 45.9 percent. One can add to this number 15.7 percent –trips based on an independently acquired contract. This means
that in sum, more than 60 percent of all the trips are supported by the receiving side.
The Russian side has probably ﬁnanced –fully or partially –one out of three trips. This assumption is relevant for the trips
sponsored by one’s own organization (26 percent of all trips) and the trips through the ofﬁcial Russian channels (5.8 percent).
Surprising is the miniscule number of those who participated in academic exchanges –just seventy-ﬁve people or 2.6 percent.
Close to two-thirds of those who went abroad worked in state organizations (1903). Others were equally divided between
the business sector and the college education. There is only one private non-commercial organization on the listing. This is
a logical consequence of the adopted methodology that ignored small enterprises. In the state sector, the Russian Academy of
Sciences has a leading role –1768 people or 93 percent.
The highest demand abroad is for physicists, and then, biologists. Of those who left, every third is a physicist; every fourth,
a biologist; and every tenth, a mathematician. Specialists in these ﬁelds have much more intensive foreign contacts than
anybody else. Some estimates showed that in the Moscow L. D. Landau Theoretical Physics Institute, only one-third of its
research staff was constantly working in its workplace. Practically all the leading specialists spent most of their time working
abroad. Also working abroad were about a half (out of 300) of the leading Moscow mathematicians (Mozgi Utekaiushchie,
Overall, Basic Sciences accounted for 77 percent of those who left. It is much harder to ﬁnd a job abroad for those
working in other branches of science, especially for the specialists in Medicine, Agriculture, and the Humanities (see Fig. 1).
Still, immigration remains the major source of population growth in the EU: its share in the overall population increase was 84 percent in 2002–2008,
and 61 percent, in 2009 (Vishnevskii, 2010, 309).
It should be noted though that the number of foreign students in the US has been on the rebound since 2006. In 2008, the international students’
contribution to the US economy amounted to $17.6 billion (Fischer, 2009).
The traditional Russian academic system has two levels of doctorates, both requiring the preparation of an elaborate dissertation research project.To
acquire the Candidate of Science degree, one has to spend at least three years in a graduate school and to prepare a written dissertation that has to be
evaluated by both the dissertation committee and the external reviewers. The Doctor of Science degree requires both a dissertation and a track of research
that usually includes at least one major monograph. At present, the RF is moving towards the Western-style three-tier Bachelor-Master-Doctor system.
During 2000–2009, the number of Doctors of Science engaged in research has increased from 21,949 to 25,295 while the number of Candidates of
Science has declined from 83,962 to 75,980. During the same period, the number of Doctors of Science engaged in teaching grew from 29,757 to 46,984, and
that of Candidates of Science, from 131,287 to 192,998 (Tsentr issledovanii i statistiki nauki, 2010, 13, 35).
Overall, about a quarter of the graduates of the leading Russian math departments migrates abroad (Vitkovskaya and Panarin, 2000, 122).
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The majority of those in Basic Sciences work in the Russian Academy of Sciences –from 63 percent among physicists to 81
percent among biologists. Specialists in Technical Sciences are mostly engaged in the entrepreneurial sector: just one out of
four is working in the RAS. The scale of cooperation between the RAS and its foreign partners in Social Sciences and
Humanities is extremely limited. On the whole, these ﬁelds account for 2.9 percent of those who went abroad (ﬁfty-two
scholars). The majority of those who travel abroad (70 percent) work at the universities.
Men comprise the majority of those who travel abroad. Women account for just a quarter of the overall ﬂow –while they
comprised 41.9 percent of the RF research personnel in 2009 (Tsentr issledovanii i statistiki nauki, 2010, 14). Their share is
slightly higher (29.5 percent) among those younger than forty years old (see Table 2). The older the category of those leaving,
the lower is the percentage of women. Thus there is a clear trend towards the increase of the share of women in the younger
groups of academics traveling abroad. Still, their share is especially low –15 percent –among those who come from the
The largest group of scholars –40.1 percent –left to conduct joint research. Only a little smaller –32.3 percent –is the
share of those who found a job in a foreign organization and, presumably, work in accordancewith its research plans. Only 6.4
percent of scholars went abroad to teach or to engage in consulting activities. As one can see, this is a rare type of foreign
academic activity for the Russian scholars. It serves as evidence of a low degree of engagement of the Russian science in the
international academic labor market. A visible part of scholars –11.9 percent –indicated having a “contract job”as a reason for
going abroad. Only a very small share –6.4 percent –named study abroad or specialization as a reason for travel.
4. The duration of work abroad
Relatively short trips between three months and one year in duration dominate. They account for more than a half of all
trips. Travel for one to two years is also frequent. Trips lasting for two to three years are relatively rare. Meanwhile, long-term
trips, lasting for more than three years, account for more than 20 percent of all trips (see Fig. 2).
How many of those who left can be expected to come back? There are no serious estimates in this regard. There exist some
fragmentary and out-of-date estimates related to speciﬁc institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
suggested at the beginning of the 1990s that the number of trips based on contracts and study or specialization abroad was
three to ﬁve times larger than of those aimed from the start at ﬁnding a permanent settlement in the receiving countries
(Tsentr Migratsionnykh Issledovanii, 1993, 7). This proportion was derived from the data on the travel of physicists and
mathematicians and probably should not be related to all scholars leaving Russia. Our own observations tell us that those who
went abroad for two years or more –and this is close to a third of all those who left –rarely come back, managing to ﬁnd new
The possession of an advanced academic degree represents one of the major factors simplifying ﬁnding a long-term
employment abroad. Among those who did not have such a degree, only 14 percent were able to stay for more than three
years. Meanwhile, of those with such a degree, 23 percent found a long-term job. Nevertheless, the distribution of Doctors of
Science (in the Russian classiﬁcation) is weighted towards the short-term trips, even though there is a visible share of the
most long-term ones. The distribution of trips for the Candidates of Science is relatively more even (see Table 3).
and Humanities; 6,1
*including Chemistry (6.1%) and the Earth Sciences (5.2%)
Medicine (3.6%) and A
Fig. 1. Labor migration of the Russian scientist. The branch distribution of the researchers working abroad, %. Source: Gosudarstvennyi Komitet RF
po Statistike, 2003.
In 1993, for example,172 scholars left the N.N. Semyonov Institute of Chemical Physics to work on a temporary contract abroad. Not a single person left
claiming to seek permanent settlement abroad. For the A.F. Ioffe Instituteof Technical Physics, the respective ﬁgures were 83 and 15 people (Gokhberg et al.,
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The duration of work abroad also depends on the method of exit (see Table 4). The distribution of those who went on the
invitation of the receiving side or were sent abroad by their homeinstitutions is very similar and is close to the average. Those
who work on the basis of a contract with a Russian organization, for the most part (81 percent) go abroad for a short time and
very rarely –for a longer term. Exchange visits are usually legally limited by two-year terms. Thus the best opportunities for
a durable employment abroad are linked to the long-term contracts. Among those who went abroad this way, one out of two
plans to work there for more than three years. Only one in four plans to stay abroad for less than a year.
5. The geography of the trips
The major destination points for the Russian scholars include Western Europe, 42.4 percent; and North America, 30.4
percent. Also visible in the ﬂow are the countries of Asia and Scandinavia. Meanwhile, the academic interaction with the
former satellites –the countries of Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet states –has practically stopped. This trend is reinforced
by a drastic decline of economic cooperation with these regions –the share of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
countries in Russia’s foreign trade, for example, fell from 66 percent in 1991 to less than 15 percent at present. In 2009, they
accounted for 15.1 percent of the Russian exports and 13.3 percent of its imports (Vlaskin and Lenchuk, 2006, 179;
Federal’naia Sluzhba Gosudarstvennoi Statistiki, 2009). Hence Russia essentially needs to rebuild its cooperation with those
regions from scratch. In terms of intellectual migration, the ﬂow to Eastern Europe was equal to that to Africa, while the ﬂow
to the post-Soviet states was just a little bit smaller than that to Latin America (see Table 5).
Still, one should not, of course, ignore the fact that there is a growing ﬂow of intellectual migration from those regions to
Russia, supported to some extent by the immigration legislation changes of 2005–2011. This concerns ﬁrst of all the
undergraduate and graduate students, even though at present, the number of international students in the RF is relatively
small, although growing over time (123,515 in 2010/2011 academic year compared to 95,781 in 2007/2008 and 67,025 in
1995/1996). Of those, the share of students coming from the CIS countries is 59.2 percent –this is signiﬁcantly lower than
those countries’share in the overall migration ﬂow to Russia (Federal’naia Sluzhba Gosudarstvennoi Statistiki, 2011a).
In regard to the outﬂow to particular countries, the United States is in the lead, accounting for 28.7 percent of the overall
academic migration from Russia (840 scholars), followed by Germany with 19 percent (556 scholars). Other important
destinations include France, 191 scholars or 6.5 percent; the United Kingdom, 135 scholars or 4.6 percent; Japan, 125 scholars
or 4.3 percent; Sweden, 95 scholars or 3.2 percent; India, 69 scholars or 2.4 percent; Italy, the Netherlands, and China (each of
those countries accounted for 58 to 60 scholars or for about 2 percent of the ﬂow). The aforementioned ten countries received
three-quarters of the academic ﬂow from Russia. Meanwhile, Russians also actively seek their own niche in the global labor
market system –wherever there might be the demand for their qualiﬁcations. Thus they also offer their skills to the Global
1-2 years; 16,6
2-3 years ; 8, 2
More than 3
years ; 20, 8
Three mo nt h s to
a year; 54,4
Fig. 2. The duration of the work abroad, %. Source: Gosudarstvennyi Komitet RF po Statistike, 2003.
The age and gender characteristics of researchers working abroad, %.
Age Researchers, total Men Women Share of women within age cohort
Up to 29 13.1 12.3 15.7 29.4
30–39 27.3 25.5 32.7 29.5
40–49 31.6 31.3 32.3 25.2
50–59 20.7 22.2 16.1 19.2
60–69 6.4 7.6 2.9 11.2
70 and older 0.9 1.1 0.3 7.7
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 24.6
Source: Gosudarstvennyi Komitet RF po Statistike, 2003.
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South countries. Overall, at least seventy-three countries received Russian scholars in 2002. Their list included such exotic for
Russia choices as Benin, Cote d’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast), and Antigua and Barbuda.
The geography of scholars’trips visibly varies depending on their specialization. More than a half of the physicists work in
Western Europe, 57 percent (of those, about a half work in Germany); and a quarter, in the United States. Mathematicians also
tend to move to Western Europe. The difference is that they are distributed among the countries of that region more evenly
For biologists, the United States dominates, 46.5 percent;while Western Europe holds a distant second place, 32.3 percent.
Germany’s role is also much less visible, 12 percent. Signiﬁcant is the ﬂow of biologists to Finland and Sweden, 9 percent
combined. A similar geographic pattern is characteristic of the chemists and medical researchers. Thus it seems possible to
presume that a large share of chemists and biologists are doing studies related to medical research.
Technical specialists have a very different distribution pattern. Their travel follows the established routes of the traditional
Russian and Soviet scientiﬁc, technical, and military cooperation: 17.7 percent went to work to India and 23 percent to Algeria,
Iran, China, and Kazakhstan (in more or less equal shares). Still, one-quarter went to Western Europe. Only 9 percent of the
Technical Sciences experts could ﬁnd a job in the United States.
Specialists in the Humanities and Social Sciences go to Germany, the US, and China. These countries account for 60 percent
of all such trips, and the ﬂows to those three countries are similar in terms of their size (see Table 6).
While researchers from the academic organizations tend to be most strongly oriented towards the United States, those in
business do not have clearly visible preferences: trips to the US, Germany, and the Asian countries have approximately equal
frequency. College faculty clearly have more luck in Western Europe: they travel there twice more often than to the US.
Among their priority destinations is also China (see Table 7). Still, overall, Russian academic ties with China –a booming
economy, the largest RF neighbor with a long mutual border, and a potential demographic donor –remain relatively weak.
Thus the US and Germany lead in all types of academic migration, such as joint projects, contract work in foreign organi-
zations, or study abroad (see Table 8).
The most diversiﬁed and regionally spread out are the lecturing and consulting abroad. In these ﬁelds the US and Germany
account for only one-third of all those who went abroad. Meanwhile, in all other subﬁelds the combined share of those two
countries is about one-half or even higher. Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that only 188 scholars went to lecture
abroad. At the same time, this type of academic activity ﬁnds demand both in the West and in some developing countries: one
out of three lecturers went to the Global South, even though there probably exists a higher market potential for the Russian
academics over there.
6. The regional aspect
The Russian international links are concentrated in three major regions, or, to be exact, three cities: Moscow, St. Peters-
burg, and Novosibirsk. One out of four scholars who found a job abroad is from Moscow; one out of ﬁve is from St. Petersburg;
and one out of seven, from the Novosibirsk Oblast. If one adds to those scholars from the Moscow and Leningrad Oblasts (the
surrounding administrative units), the overall share of the three regions in the academic migration ﬂow is about three-
quarters. Such a high share is especially spectacular, considering the fact that those regions’input into the permanent
emigration from Russia is consistently declining.
Relatively active in this ﬂow are ﬁve more Russian federal units
: Nizhny Novgorod, Sverdlovsk, Irkutsk and Tomsk
Oblasts and the Republic of Tatarstan (see Table 9). Seven more regions sent abroad between twenty-one and forty scholars
each: the Republic of Bashkortostan, Krasnoiarsk, Khabarovsk and Primorsky (Maritime) Krais, Kaluga, Rostov, and Murmansk
The duration of work abroad based on academic degree, %.
Length of work abroad Doctors of science Candidates of science No advanced degree
Three months to a year 60.1 47.4 65.8
1–2 years 10.4 19.4 14.6
2–3 years 6.5 10.0 5.6
More than 3 years 23.0 23.2 14.0
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0
Source: Gosudarstvennyi Komitet RF po Statistike, 2003.
The available statistics were given on the basis of the federal structure as deﬁned by the 1993 RF Constitution. According to it, the RF included eighty-
nine federal units, among them –two federal cities –Moscow and St. Petersburg. Other major cities were considered only as parts of larger units.
Meanwhile, most of the Russian educational and research potential is traditionally concentrated in large cities. Besides that, in recent years, the number of
federal units is declining (eighty-three at present), because in the post-Yeltsin period, the RF federal government started to merge many ethnic federal units
with the economically stronger and more politically reliable neighboring Russian speaking oblasts and krais.
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Considering the facts that for the majority of the Russian scholars, international contacts became possible relatively
recently and that the regional science previously was not adequately developed, the existence of at least ten trips abroad each
lasting at least three months, can probably be viewed as a sign of relatively stable foreign contacts. Under this presumption,
ﬁve more federal units that sent abroad between ten and twenty scholars, can be included into the active category. These are
Belgorod, Voronezh, Volgograd, Perm’, and Yaroslavl Oblasts. Thus twenty-two out of eighty-nine existing in 2002 units of the
Russian Federation have sent abroad at least ten scholars. Six more units had between six and nine scholars who went abroad
for at least three months. At the same time more than a half of the federal units –forty-six –have not sent a single scholar
abroad for a long-term trip, even though each of them had at least one university. Thirteen regions reported ﬁve such trips or
less. Thus the bulk of the regional academic centers and universities do not have stable academic ties with the outside world.
In this sense, there is no much difference between the western and the eastern parts of the country. In the Northwest, for
example, most of the international academic interaction centers are in the city of St. Petersburg and the surrounding Oblast. In
the same fashion, Moscow accounts for most of the international exchanges of the Central region. The picture in other regions
Still, even most of the Russian cities with a population over one million do not generate strong and stable international
academic ties. This can be clearly seen if one is looking at the indicators of the intensity of international contacts: the
relationship between the relative share of the region in foreign trips and in the overall number of those engaged in academic
activity. Based on the intensity of academic ties, leading is Novosibirsk with ﬁve foreign trips: it accounts for only 2.9 percent
of those engaged in academic work, but for 14.4 percent of all foreign trips. Signiﬁcantly lagging behind is St. Petersburg with
1.8 (respectively 10.9 percent and 19.7 percent). Relatively high indicators are also in Tatarstan, 1.6 (respectively 1.8 percent
and 2.8 percent). The intensity of contacts corresponding to their weight in terms of academic potential have Ekaterinburg,
1.2; Ufa,1.2; and Krasnoiarsk,1.0. For other major cities this relationship is extremely low: for Nizhny Novgorod, it is only 0.55
(5.5 percent and 3.0 percent); for Voronezh, Rostov, and Perm’, 0.3–0.4; and for Saratov, Samara, Omsk, and Volgograd, even
lower. Not a single scholar went to work abroad from Cheliabinsk, one of the major Russian cities.
Even Moscow’s (with the surrounding Oblast) international contacts do not look that intensive: 0.84 (42.5 percent and
33.8 percent). To some extent, this can be the result of both the higher rates of scholars’permanent emigration from Moscow
and a large share of bureaucrats and service personnel listed in the academic organizations located in the capital.
The factor of geographic proximity also plays an unexpectedly small role in the development of international academic
ties. Among the receiving states, Germany and the US are the leaders practically everywhere, regardless of the region of exit –
be it St. Petersburg, Primorsky Krai, or Tatarstan. Only Khabarovsk Krai in the East (of the traveling twenty-nine scholars,
eighteen went to the neighboring China, Korea, and Japan) and Murmansk Oblast in the Northwest (of twenty-one scholars,
eleven went to the neighboring Scandinavia) were clearly oriented towards their neighbors. The development of academic
cooperation between Siberia and the Far East and the countries of the Paciﬁc region is extremely slow: only thirty-one
scholars went to China, both Koreas, and Japan from Eastern Siberia. For the Far East, this ﬁgure was twenty-six people,
The duration of work abroad and the way of exit, %.
The method of exit Duration of work abroad Total
Three months to a year 1–2 years 2–3 years More than 3 years
Invitation of the receiving organization 57.5 17.2 8.1 17.2 100.0
Sent on a trip by the home organization 60.8 12.9 8.9 17.4 100.0
Contract of the Russian organization 81.3 8.8 4.1 5.8 100.0
Independent contract 23.7 22.6 8.7 45.0 100.0
Exchange 85.3 14.7 –– 100.0
Total 54.4 16.6 8.2 20.8 100.0
Source: Gosudarstvennyi Komitet RF po Statistike, 2003.
The regional distribution of researchers working abroad.
Region Researchers, number %
Post-Soviet States 66 2.3
Western Europe 1238 42.4
Scandinavian Countries 151 5.2
Eastern Europe 33 1.1
North America 888 30.4
South and Central America 56 1.9
Asia 429 14.7
Africa 36 1.2
Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica 25 0.8
Total 2922 100.0
Source: Gosudarstvennyi Komitet RF po Statistike, 2003.
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the bulk of whom came from Khabarovsk Krai. Amur Oblast, located across the border from China, did not send a single
The ethnic and confessional factors also did not have a signiﬁcant role. For example, only one scholar from the mostly
Moslem Tatarstan went to Turkey. Not a single scholar went to Finland from the ethnically close Karelia, Mary and Mordovia
Republics, and the Khanty Mansi Autonomous Okrug.
7. The policy implications
It is frequently assumed that a large-scale development of various forms of labor migration in Russia has a temporary
character and is primarily crisis caused. Meanwhile, labor migration represents a conventional type of labor force movement,
essential for the open societies with functioning labor markets: The International Labor Organization estimates the current
number of the economically active international labor migrants at 100 million, or about 3 percent of the world work force. In
Western Europe, their share is about 10 percent. The International Organization for Migration states that during the current
century, the number of the temporary labor migrants has been growing at about 7–8 percent annually (Ivakhniuk, 2011,10–
12; International Labour Organization, 2010a;International Organization for Migration, 2009). This process has been further
intensiﬁed by the globalization and the formation of a worldwide labor market. This conclusion is relevant for the intellectual
migration as one of the subtypes of labor migration. In addition, the very scale of this phenomenon seems to be much smaller
than it is usually presented by the media and particular political forces in Russia.
Obviously, the international contacts of the Russian scientists have visibly expanded in the post-Soviet period. Still, this
process develops slowly, and Russia’s inclusion into the international academic community remains very weak. It concerns all
aspects of the Russian academic interaction with the outside world. In case of the Russian students studying abroad, in the
middle of the 1990s,13,000 of them were studying at the universities of thirty-three countries, although more than 80 percent
were in four states –the United States, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. Still, in Germany, the Russians’share among
foreign students was just 2.1 percent; in the United States and France,1.2 percent; and in the United Kingdom, 0.25 percent.
By 2008 the number of the Russian students studying in the leading Western countries –OECD members, was estimated at
between 35 and 50 thousand, compared to the overall ﬁgure of more than three million students studying abroad worldwide,
including 671.6 thousand, in the US. Of those, 21 percent went to the universities in the US, and 13 percent, in the United
Kingdom. Thus the RF student diaspora abroad is still not very signiﬁcant –in Germany, for example, Russians comprise just
5.1 percent of the international student body of that country; and in the US, less than 1 percent.
In the case of academic personnel, doors to the other countries open up based on the wishes of those countries, and travel
opportunities depend on their willingness to accept visitors and to cover their travel expenses. Essentially, the Western
countries show selectivity in their demand for the Russian scholars. Large-scale brain drain involves primarily physicists,
mathematicians, biologists, and chemists –in these ﬁelds, Russia indeed can feel some apprehension. In regard to the other
branches of science, there is no evidence of either large-scale international cooperation or, especially, brain drain from Russia.
This is particularly true for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
The country and branch of science distribution of researchers working abroad, %.
Receiving country Branch of science
Physics Biology Mathematics Technical sciences Medicine Liberal arts and humanities
Germany 29.2 120 14.0 9.9 15.0 19.7
United Kingdom 5.2 5.9 7.7 2.7 3.8 3.9
France 5.7 6.9 12.9 2.4 2.9 6.3
Other states of Western Europe 17.2 7.5 13.6 10.5 10.6 6.3
Scandinavian countries 4.0 8.9 3.3 3.0 5.8 3.1
USA 24.4 46.5 27.6 8.9 50.0 22.8
Japan 5.5 2.3 2.2 4.6 2.9 7.1
Algeria 4.6 ––
India 17.7 ––
Iran 0.7 0.9 0.4 6.7 ––
Kazakhstan 5.9 ––
China 5.9 2.9 17.3
Others 8.1 9.1 18.3 17.2 6.1 13.5
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Source: Gosudarstvennyi Komitet RF po Statistike, 2003.
Of those, 18 to 25 percent expressed the desire to return to Russia (Ledeneva and Tiuriukanova, 2002, 22, 27, 101).
In Germany, the number of Russian students is the largest –about 12 thousand; in the US, about 5 thousand. Quickly growing is the number of the
Russian students in China –7 thousand, even though their share in the overall international student body of that country (195 thousand) remains relatively
low (Fischer, 2009).
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If physicists and mathematicians feel some degree of support of the international academic diaspora in the development of
cooperation with the Western science, and there are some signs of transformation of the unidirectional outﬂow into
a partnership, even though still primarily sponsored by one side (Dezhina, 2003,64–78). Social Sciences and Humanities
desperately need to receive a targeted support for the intensiﬁcation of their international contacts. Otherwise the gap
between the Russian Basic Sciences, on the one hand, and Social Sciences and Humanities, on the other, will continue to grow.
In general, the recent Russian social and economic trends are quite contradictory. On the one hand, high oil prices and the
economic expansion of the Putin years have allowed for the increasing investment in the ﬁelds of science and education,
especially in the areas afﬁliated with the military industrial complex. Since 2000, Presidents Putin’s and Medvedev’s
administrations also adopted numerous legislative acts, regularizing and simplifying migration procedures.
Most of these
acts were dealing with immigration to the RF and frequently had restrictive character. Starting in March 2005, visible was the
general liberalization of migration policy, aimed at increasing permanent immigration, improvements in migration statistics,
the expansion of the legal space for temporary labor migration, a limited legalization of undocumented migrants, the creation
of stimuli for the immigration of highly qualiﬁed labor resources as well as attempts to intensify the interaction with the
Russian speaking diaspora abroad.
In the framework of this new policy, on July 22, 2006 Vladimir Putin signed the decree on
the “Measures Supporting the Voluntary Resettlement to the Russian Federation of Compatriots Living Abroad.”Its imple-
mentation, however, was much less successful than the initial forecasts have predicted: The program envisioned the reset-
tlement to Russia of 50 thousand people in 2007, 100 thousand in 2008, and 150 thousand, in 2009. The real ﬁgures were 672
people in 2007, 8279 in 2008, and 7357 –in 2009 (Vishnevskii, 2009,2011, 284–298, 262). It was clear that the exclusive
orientation on the resettlement of Russian speakers could not resolve Russia’s demographic and socio-economic problems.
On June 21, 2007, another decree was adopted, “On the Creation of the ‘Russian World’Foundation”(Fond Russkii Mir).
Among the Foundation’s stated goals –spreading Russian language and culture, the establishing ties with the Russian-
speaking diaspora abroad, and providing “support for the organizations and societies of compatriots abroad.supporting
the restoration of the unity of cultures of Russia and the Russians abroad”(Fond Russkiy Mir, 2011). Special attention was
given to the encouragement of the voluntary return of the Russian academic, cultural and professional elites living abroad.
The next logical (and the most comprehensive) step was the decision by the Medvedev administration to create the Skolkovo
research center in Moscow Oblast,
described usually as the Russian equivalent of the Silicon Valley. It was envisioned as
a site with favorable working conditions for the Russian academics and venture capitalists living abroad and willing to either
return to Russia permanently or to utilize some other forms of cooperation, including short and mid-term visits. As it is
described in Skolkovo Center’s governmental Mandate, its main tasks include “the creation and upholding of the globally
competitive conditions and environment for the pioneering research and development with the consequent commerciali-
zation of their results, as well as for the formation of a new generation of high class specialists in the priority spheres of the
Priority host states based on the sphere of employment (the ﬁrst ﬁve states).
State Academic organizations Business College education
Share of those leaving, %
USA 32.2 20.6 21.4
Germany 17.5 16.9 27.2
France 6.8 –8.4
United Kingdom 5.7 –4.1
Switzerland –5.7 –
Japan 5.3 ––
India –13.1 –
Iran –5.0 –
Total of 5 states 67.5 61.3 66.4
Source: Gosudarstvennyi Komitet RF po Statistike, 2003.
These included, among others, the Concept of the RF Demographic Development Until 2015 (September 2001), the Concept of the RF Demographic
Development Until 2025 (October 2007), the Concept of Migration Processes Regulation in the RF (March 2003), the Law on Citizenship of the RF (May
2002; signiﬁcantly revised and liberalized in November 2003), the Law on the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens (July 2002; revised in November 2003), the
revised version of the Law on Entrance and Exit (January 2003), and the Law on Migration Registration of Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons in the RF
(June 2006). Also signiﬁcant were the introduction in 2002 of migration cards for all foreign citizens arriving in Russia, of a diversiﬁed visa system in 2003,
of a quota system for labor migrants in 2006, and the development of legal procedures for the permanent residency acquisition in 2008. In addition, in
2004, the CIS Concept of Cooperation in Preventing the Illegal Migration was also adopted.
This turnaround of migration policy is explained to a large extent by the demographic crisis the RF is currently facing: the population of Russia is
declining since 1992, when it reached 148.2 million. By January 1, 2012, the population declined to 143.1 million, or by 5.1 million (a 3.4 percent drop as
compared with 1992). Even more signiﬁcantly, in 2007, the economically active population in the RF also started to decline (Federal’naia Sluzhba
Gosudarstvennoi Statistiki, 2012, 8; Mukomel and Pain, 7, 9; Vishnevskii, 2010, 7).
For the ﬁrst time, President Dmitry Medvedev spelled out this idea on 12 November 2009 in his annual address to the Russian Parliament.
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technological development.[Skolkovo Foundation is expected to provide for] the formation of a full cycle innovative process
that would include education, research and development and testing, and the commercialization of their results”(Fond
Razvitiia Innovatsionnogo Fonda Skolkovo, 2011). The lax taxation regime, simpliﬁed bureaucratic procedures and other
measures aimed at shielding the incoming scholars from the most complicated and unclear to them peculiarities of the
Russian academic, political and economic realities, were viewed as signiﬁcant stimuli for the intensiﬁcation of cooperation
with the Russian academic diaspora in the West.
The RF government has also expanded its ﬁnancial support to national research foundations. Special place in this regard
belongs to two foundations formed yet in the 1990s: the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (originally created by the
Presidential Decree on 27 April 1992)
and the Russian Foundation for the Humanities (created by the Russian government
on 8 September 1994).
This type of activity especially intensiﬁed during Medvedev’s tenure as RF President. Besides the
creation of Skolkovo, new attempts were made to offer ﬁnancial support for research and to either stimulate the return of the
Russian intellectual elites to the RF or encourage them to work with the Russian research and educational institutions. It is
expected, in particular, that during 2010–2012, the RF government will distribute 5.33 billion Rubles (close to $200 million) in
grants to joint research groups that would include Russian academic institutions and foreign researchers, many of whom are
expected to be the Russians living and working abroad. In April, 2010 the RF government has issued an act “On the Measures
Directed at Stimulating the Inﬂow of the Leading Scientists to the Russian Educational Institutions of Higher Professional
Learning”–again, one of its major goals is to ﬁnd new forms of work with the Russian academic diaspora abroad (Aktual’nye
At the same time, serious limitations were imposed on the activities of Western foundations in the RF. A number of
investigations and court cases were started accusing Russian academics of spying for the West.
These, along with a general
decline of the academic interest in Russia in the West, had a negative effect on the academic cooperation with the outside
world. Respectively, the Western support for the Russian science is also declining.
The opponents of intellectual migration emphasize such its aspects as the ﬁnancial losses to the country resulting from the
emigration of highly qualiﬁed specialists whose education was quite expensive, and the implications of this phenomenon for
The distribution of researchers working abroad based on the country and goals of the trip, % (the ﬁrst 5 countries).
Country Goal of the trip
Lectures, consulting Joint research project Work in a foreign organization Contract Study, specialization
Germany 12.2 21.6 18.1 15.5 25.4
USA 19.1 25.6 36.7 29.2 24.9
China 9.6 –– ––
France 8.0 6.8 7.0 4.3 7.6
United Kingdom 5.3 3.7 5.8 –5.9
Brazil 5.3 –– ––
Switzerland –6.0 –––
Japan –– 5.4 5.7 7.6
India –– – 10.3 –
Total, leading states 59.5 63.7 73.0 65.0 71.4
Source: Gosudarstvennyi Komitet RF po Statistike, 2003.
During 1993–2008, the foundation has supported travel abroad for 20 thousand Russian academics, about 9 thousand publishing projects, including 3
thousand books, and 7 thousand academic meetings in Russia. Involved in its activities were more than 4000 Russian organizations. Funding for 2008 was
in excess of 6.6 billion roubles, or 6.6 times more than in 2000 (995.6 million roubles). The foundation accounts for 6 percent of funds allocated by the
Russian budget for non-military research projects. In 2008, 19.0 percent of its grants were allocated for projects in Physics and Astronomy; 18.2 percent, for
those in Medicine and Biology; 14.0 percent, in Earth Sciences and Engineering Sciences each, and 12.5 percent, in Chemistry (Rossiiskii Fond
Fundamental’nykh Issledovanii, 2011).
In 1994–2010, the foundation supported more than 30 thousand projects, including more than a thousand conferences, 4.5 thousand books, and more
than two thousand trips of the Russian academics abroad. While Moscow and Saint Petersburg account for a signiﬁcant share of the foundation’s projects
(respectively, 36.7 percent and 10.1 percent), more than a half of them (53.2 percent) originate in the provincial centers. The RFH budget has increased
from 219.9 million roubles in 2001 to 1100.3 million in 2008 and was planned to be 1665.4 million in 2009 (Rossiiskii Fond Gumanitarnykh Issledovanii,
This is a very important issue, considering the fact that many leading academics work in the ﬁelds involving research having either direct defense or
dual usage orientation. Thus they become potentially vulnerable to accusations of transferring such technologies in both their home and host countries –
something that has on a number of occasions happened to the Chinese, Israeli, and some other scholars working in the US. This issue is especially important
in view of the fact that all the ﬁve proposed “clusters”of the Skolkovo project –Nuclear Technology, Information and Computer Technology, Space
Technology, Energy Efﬁcient Technologies, and Biomed Technologies –have a dual usage potential (Fond Razvitiia Innovatsionnogo Fonda Skolkovo, 2011).
The share of the Western sources in the overall ﬁnancial support for the Russian science has peaked at 16.9 percent in 1999 and has been declining ever
since (Dezhina, 2003, 71). Visible are also the consequences of the current economic crisis that resulted in signiﬁcant cuts of the Russian programs by the
Ford, Eurasia, McArthur, and a number of other foundations. In a similar fashion, the share of the foreign sources in the Russian R&D expenditures has
declined from 12 percent in 2000 to 6.5 percent in 2009 (Tsentr issledovanii i statistiki nauki, 2010, 86).
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the country’s national security and academic potential. The 1992 Russian Education Ministry estimates, for example, showed
that the permanent migration of a single researcher resulted in ﬁnancial losses for the country of about $300,000 while the
ﬁnancial gain from a highly qualiﬁed specialist’s lifetime activity could be 20 times higher than the expenses related to such
specialist’s education (Ushkalov and Malakha, 1999, 154). The critics also refer to the negative trends in the demographic
sphere, the decline in the quality of the remaining research, university, and school personnel, and other potential losses
associated with the intellectual emigration.
Meanwhile, the ﬁgures provided in our research indicate that contrary to the popular stereotypes, the major problem for
Russia remains the small scale of intellectual exchanges and labor migration of the Russian scientists while the majority of
those leaving the academy permanently move to non-academic jobs within the country. Of special concern is the lack of
contacts between a large number of the Russian regions with the outside world, preventing their effective inclusion into the
international academic community. Most probably, one of the major problems in this regard is the lack of information about
the available channels for such contacts. Most of them are formed on the basis of a personal initiative. There exists a hidden
competition for the access to the limited informational, ﬁnancial, and organizational resources as well as the trips abroad, and
thus the information about the potential channels of cooperation is not shared willingly or effectively. Even the Internet is not
always easily available in many provincial universities. The RF Education Ministry, the Russian Academy of Sciences and other
state institutions also are not providing effective channels of such information.
This information blockade has to be
removed, ﬁrst of all for the sake of the Russian science.
Respectively, Russia should be interested in the expansion of such international exchanges, including the intellectual
emigration, as the mechanisms promoting that country’s inclusion into the international intellectual labor market and
academic networks. In particular, instead of an outright prohibition or attempts to slow down intellectual emigration, it
would be much more productive to seek the ways to utilize the positive aspects of brain drain for Russia. Achieving this goal
would require a differentiated approach towards various groups of the Russian intellectual elites abroad. Along with
encouraging the academics’return, these could involve such measures as the creation of dual employment opportunities,
honorary professorships and chairmanships and other positions at the universities and research institutions, and special
membership quotas within the RAS and other elite professional associations, allowing for an active engagement of the
Russian academic diaspora, support for its members’research and publications through the Russian foundations and activities
of private companies, organization of their lecture tours in Russia simultaneously with the encouragement of the voluntary
return of the Russian academics working abroad through the provision of both material and moral stimuli. No less signiﬁcant
would be the creation of mechanisms simplifying for the diaspora academics work with the undergraduate and graduate
students on their diploma and dissertation projects. Of equal importance is the expansion of the alternative channels of
information and ﬁnancial support for research and travel abroad for the Russian academics.
The distribution of researchers working abroad based on the economic region of exit, %.
Economic region Number %
Northern 28 1.0
North-West Including: 701 24.0
St. Petersburg 576 19.7
Leningrad Oblast 125 4.3
Central Including: 1100 37.6
Moscow 707 24.2
Moscow Oblast 338 11.6
Volgo-Vyatsky Including: 90 3.1
Nizhny Novgorod Oblast 87 3.0
Central-Black Soil 31 1.1
Volga Including: 112 3.8
Tatarstan 81 2.8
Northern Caucasus 38 1.3
Urals Including: 168 5.7
Sverdlovsk Oblast 109 3.7
Western Siberia Including: 495 16.9
Novosibirsk Oblast 421 14.4
Tomsk Oblast 58 2.0
Eastern Siberia Including: 98 3.4
Irkutsk Oblast 68 2.3
Far East 61 2.1
Total 2922 100.0
Source: Gosudarstvennyi Komitet RF po Statistike, 2003.
It is interesting that historically, Russia itself was a major beneﬁciary of the international brain drain, bringing large numbers of academics from other
countries: in the middle of the eighteenth century, for instance, there were only thirty-four Russians among 107 members of the St. Petersburg Academyof
Sciences (Vitkovskaya and Panarin, 2000, 114).
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Serious attention require also the measures designed to stimulate the intellectual and educational immigration to the RF –
ﬁrst of all from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) and the Global South countries
–that presume the continuous reform of the
Russian migration legislation, including the easing of the student and professional visa requirements, and the simpliﬁcation of
the work permits and permanent residency acquisition and naturalization procedures.
Also very important is the provision
of the Russian language courses for the incoming migrants and the children of the Russian diaspora living abroad.
Of special importance are the measures aimed at dealing with such rampant problems of the modern Russia as the
bureaucratization of the academic process, xenophobia,
and corruption of state ofﬁcials. Skolkovo project can serve as an
interesting testing ground for this new approach to engaging the Russian academic diaspora abroad and linking academic
science with the modern high tech business. In general, the brain drain phenomenon should be considered as an opportunity
that could, with an emphasis on the use of diverse forms of cooperation with the Russian academics abroad –both with or
without their permanent relocation to the country –provide for the inclusion of the Russian science into the international
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