Shortly after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, ex-opposition activist Elena Jaslavska was staying at her apartment in downtown Moscow when police knocked on the door.
We have easily answered your questions about the purpose of your recent trips to Dubai and Canada. Zaslavska went to see her sons who lived there. But for the 60-year-old retired physicist and her husband, the police visit was a clear warning. In a matter of days, the couple packed their bags and headed for Montenegro, a small Balkan province, which has become a haven for thousands of Russians fleeing sanctions, conscription or political oppression. Zaslavska said, “It was not possible to remain in Russia under the current government, because everything going on in Russia is incompatible with our views.”
They settled in Lastva Grbaljska, a village near the Adriatic where life is serene and the climate is pleasant. They live on a pension. Another Russian who made Montenegro his eternal home after the invasion was the eminent gallerist and outspoken Putin critic Marat Gelman. Last December, the Kremlin placed him on a list of ‘foreign agents’ who must register and declare funds or donations abroad, and he has not returned home since.
Montenegro, with a population of only 620,000, once maintained close ties with Russia, but these relations were hampered by Montenegro’s decision to join NATO, despite Putin’s warnings that joining the Western Alliance would result in “retaliatory action”. It got worse.
In 2016, Montenegro accused Russian intelligence agents and Serbian nationalists of trying to overthrow pro-Western leadership, which Moscow dismissed as outrageous. Nevertheless, the country remains a popular destination for Russians who can enter Montenegro without a visa and stay for 30 days before a residence permit is required.
According to government data, Russians own about 1,000 properties in Montenegro, and Russian investment accounted for more than a quarter of GDP in 2019.
Among the Russians seeking refuge in Montenegro, Gellmann said, were wealthy businessmen and their families, as well as young Russian conscripts who fled conscription to avoid being deployed to fight in Ukraine. “Parents are… using their last money to buy their children’s tickets to Montenegro and renting (lodging) their children here, so the war is not going to end,” Gelman said.
Companies are also moving to Montenegro, which is in the process of becoming a member of the European Union.
In April, Russia joined EU sanctions against Moscow, including banning Russian aircraft carriers and Russian state media from entering airspace.
Artec3D, a 3D scanner manufacturer based in Luxembourg, recently moved its research and development point from Moscow to a building overlooking the sea in the south town of Utjeha.
Owner Artyom Yukhin says 50 employees and their families have accepted the offer to move from Moscow to Montenegro. His company was already looking for a new location in Europe, but “the war forced us to do it faster,” he said.
Meanwhile, neighboring Serbia has been flooded with thousands of Russians since the invasion.
From February 24 to May 5, Serbia registered about 480 individual entrepreneurs and more than 190 companies in Russia, according to the State-owned Business Registers Agency. “The whole office, 200 to 300 people are flying in,” said Mikhail Lukyanchenko, 45, a software engineer and developer from the southern Russian city of Don on Don. Lukyanchenko said (February 24) that when it all began, he realized it was time to leave Russia.”
“I want to go home, I want to live at home, but I can’t live there right now how things are going.”
Retired couple escapes Russia with sanctions – SABC News
Source link Retired couple escapes Russia with sanctions – SABC News