The Putin Exodus: The New Russian Brain Drain

February 21, 2019 - 12:30 pm

Please join the Atlantic Council for the launch of our study, The Putin Exodus: The New Russian Brain Drain on Thursday, February 21, 2019 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Atlantic Council headquarters (1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower Elevators, Washington, DC 20005).

Human capital is fleeing Russia. Since President Vladimir Putin’s ascent to the presidency, between 1.6 and 2 million Russians – out of a total population of 145 million – have left for Western democracies. This emigration sped up with Putin’s return as president in 2012, followed by a weakening economy and growing repressions. It soon began to look like a politically driven brain drain, causing increasing concern among Russian and international observers.

In this pioneering study, the Council’s Eurasia Center offers a clear analysis of the Putin Exodus and its implications for Russia and the West. The study, which is authored by Ambassador John Herbst and Dr. Sergei Erofeev, examines the patterns and drivers of Russian emigration to the West since 2000 based on the findings from focused interviews and surveys with new Russian émigrés in four key cities in the United States and Europe.

A light lunch will be provided.

We hope you can join us for this informative discussion.

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A discussion with:

Dr. Yevgenia Albats

Editor-in-Chief and CEO

The New Times

Dr. Sergei Erofeev


Rutgers University

Ms. Elizaveta Osetinskaya

Fellow, Investigative Reporting Program

University of California – Berkeley;


The Bell

Moderated by:

Ambassador John Herbst

Director, Eurasia Center

Atlantic Council


Yevgenia Albats is a Russian investigative journalist, political scientist, author, and radio host. Since 2007, she has been the political editor and then editor-in-chief and chief executive officer of The New Times, a Moscow-based, Russian-language independent political weekly. Since 2004, Dr. Albats has hosted Absolute Albats, a talk show on Echo Moskvy, the only remaining liberal radio station in Russia. Dr. Albats was an Alfred Friendly press fellow assigned to the Chicago Tribune in 1990, and an Abrams Nieman fellow at Harvard University in 1993. She graduated from Moscow State University in 1980, and received her PhD in political science from Harvard University in 2004. She is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) since its founding in 1996. Dr. Albats taught at Yale University in 2003-04. She was a full-time professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, teaching institutional theory of the state and bureaucracy, until 2011 when her courses were cancelled at the request of top Kremlin officials. Dr. Albats is the author of four independently-researched books, including one on the history of the Russian political police, the KGB. She has a daughter and resides in Moscow.

Sergei Erofeev is currently a lecturer at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He has been involved in the internationalization of universities in Russia since the early 1990s. Previously, Dr. Erofeev served as a vice rector for international affairs at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, the dean of international programs at the European University at Saint Petersburg, and the director of the Center for Sociology of Culture at Kazan Federal University in Russia. He has also been a Hubert H. Humphrey fellow at the University of Washington. Prior to his career in academia, Dr. Erofeev was a concert pianist, and has worked in the area of the sociology of the arts. He holds a MA degree in sociology from the University of Kent in the UK and a PhD degree in sociology from Kazan State University in Russia.

John Herbst is the director of the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center. Ambassador Herbst served for thirty-one years as a foreign service officer in the US Department of State, retiring at the rank of career minister. He was the US ambassador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006. Prior to his ambassadorship in Ukraine, he was the ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2000 to 2003. Ambassador Herbst previously served as US consul general in Jerusalem; principal deputy to the ambassador-at-large for the Newly Independent States; director of the Office of Independent States and Commonwealth Affairs; director of regional affairs in the Near East Bureau; and at the embassies in Tel Aviv, Moscow, and Saudi Arabia. He most recently served as director of the Center for Complex Operations at the National Defense University. He has received two Presidential Distinguished Service Awards, the Secretary of State’s Career Achievement Award, the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Distinguished Civilian Service Award. Ambassador Herbst’s writings on stability operations, Central Asia, Ukraine, and Russia are widely published.

Elizaveta Osetinskaya is a Russian journalist and media manager. She is currently a fellow at University of California – Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She is also the founder of The Bell, a media start-up to connect Russian-speaking business people through information and high-quality journalism. From 2016 to 2017, Ms. Osetinskaya was a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, where she worked on a concept for a digital media platform to serve people living in countries with tough economic conditions and political regimes. Previously, she served as editor-in-chief of RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) from 2014 to 2016, and as editor-in-chief of the Russian edition of Forbes (2011-2013). Ms. Osetinskaya also worked for Vedomosti (1999-2011), where she was editor-in-chief from 2007 to 2010. She holds a degree in economics from Moscow State University.