Fifteen years ago, a teenage [Natalia] Lepleiskaya branded her cousin a traitor for moving to the United States rather than staying and working to change life in Russia for the better. As an adult, along with building a successful career, she volunteered at an orphanage and collected money and clothes for those in need.
In the early 2000s, she voted for Putin and his party, but as the years went by she became increasingly angered by what is happening in the country. Social inequality has worsened, corruption runs amok, opposition protests are violently dispersed and the television news often resembles Soviet propaganda.
"There came a moment when I stopped caring ... nothing will change substantially," Lepleiskaya said.
....She realizes that Russia's emerging market provides opportunities for high profits and quick career advancement in some spheres, but she doesn't trust the government to protect her savings against inflation and economic turmoil. Her father, a college instructor for 40 years, recently retired and receives a pension equivalent to $270 (euro200) per month.
"I don't want to sit on top of a tinderbox. I would rather build my career slowly, step by step, work and know that eventually when I am 60 the government will not let me down," she said.
She and her husband, Alexander, a 27-year-old IT specialist are set to receive their Canadian entry visas in the coming days and plan to fly to Montreal in the spring. Lepleiskaya now has to vaccinate her cat, who has the French name Xavier, sell off their belongings and begin saying goodbye to loved ones. _CBS
The depressing reality of life in Russia would wear down anyone, even a young, energetic idealist like Natalia. With up to 80% of Russia's elite university students eager to abandon ship and leave Russia, the ability for Russia to keep pace with global developments in science, technology, manufacturing, and infrastructure are virtually nonexistent.
Mikhail Denisenko at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow estimates that at least a half million Russians moved abroad in 2002-2009 and more are on the way in what he describes as the fifth wave of emigration since the beginning of the 20th century.Recent Russian parliamentary elections handed Vladimir Putin's party a stunning defeat, suggesting that even the Russians who stay behind are in no mood to put up with Putin's Tsar complex.
"The level of frustration is higher ... it's a feeling of discomfort, an aversion to life in Russia," said Lev Gudkov, the head of the Levada Center.
"The prospect of another 12 years of stagnation or even a worsening of the situation is frightening them and they are beginning to think about moving to a different country or at least providing a future for their children" abroad.
Numerous recent websites and blogs offer advice on how to emigrate. One of them, "Time to Shove Off," offers commentaries and videos exposing alleged crime and corruption among top Russian officials. "Yet another governor buys himself yet another Mercedes for 7 million rubles ($233,000 or euro175,000)," reads one posting. "Corruption as a lifestyle," a headline says.
"The news that Putin is staying has spoiled people's mood and this talk (of emigration) started resonating more," said Anton Nossik, a popular blogger and Internet expert, who holds seminars on emigration.
The democratic reforms ushered in by the 1991 Soviet collapse generated hope that Russia could finally become a free and progressive nation. But Putin's 11 years in power, first as president and now as prime minister, have left many people disillusioned and gloomy about the future. _CBS
Putin believes that his control of Russia's massive energy resources and his own vast personal wealth will make him immune from growing popular discontent inside Russia -- and his growing unpopularity abroad. But it would be a mistake on Putin's part to count on the energy card too much. Global energy supply and demand are subject to significant change and flux.
Furthermore, if US voters wise up and eject Obama from the White House in the 2012 elections, the US is likely to turn into a formidable global energy competitor. Should that happen, a complete collapse of the Putin government between 2015 - 2020 is not out of the question.