News / Europe

    Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's Shrinking Expat Community an Opportunity for Those Remainingi
    X
    February 05, 2016 11:00 PM
    Russia's shrinking economy and tensions with the West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave the country, seeking better opportunities. Businesses catering to foreigners are suffering; but, at a first exhibition for expatriates in Moscow, some also see opportunity. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
    Daniel Schearf

    The first exhibition for foreigners, which opened in Moscow Friday, comes at an awkward time and place.  

    In the same hall where President Vladimir Putin has his annual briefings, and has recently levied much criticism at the West, rows of booths were set up for businesses catering to mainly Western foreigners.  

    Russia's shrinking economy and tensions with the West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave the country for better opportunities.

    Russia’s economy shrank by 3.7 percent last year on low oil prices and Western sanctions, and is expected to contract another 1 percent this year.  
    In the last two years, the number of Germans in Russia dropped from 350,000 to 106,000 while the number of Americans fell from 221,000 to 46,000, and the number of British shrank from 179,000 to 28,000.  

    Businesses have been forced to downsize, relocate, or close.  Companies catering to foreigners are suffering.

    Alexey Filipenkov is with Visa Delight, a company that arranges and facilitates visas for foreigners.  “Many of our clients, they decide to decrease the number of expats here in Russia because, you know, they have to pay them salary in [foreign] currency and it's very expensive for many companies.” 

    Filipenkov says his company has had to become more efficient to remain competitive.  With a smirk, he thanks Russia’s government for changing visa rules so often.  He says it keeps them in business.  

    Russia's blocking of Western food imports added to economic woes by pushing up inflation and made European style cheeses and meats hard to come by; but, they also created opportunities for local producers looking to cater to Western tastes.  

    Grant Zozulinsky is owner of ‘Meat to Eat,’ a company he started six months ago for butchering and aging beef and pork products.  Zozulinsky says he lived in Wisconsin as a teenager, always worked on farms, and wanted to see high quality meat production in Russia.  He says the ban on Western imports gave his company a boost.  “Once we're in this niche, people can compare the products and they can choose what they like best.  That's all.  The target is to get into this niche and then, I mean, it will be easier.”

    Organizers of the exhibition argue it is the opportune time to get in on what is becoming Russia's ground floor.  

    Geral Autier, co-founder and general director of the “Foreigners Life” exhibition, said he was asked why they would have such an event when it seems like all the foreigners are leaving Russia.

    “The answer is simple,” he told an audience at the opening forum on Friday.  “We believe this is the right time to provide foreigners with product[s] and services, especially when it's difficult to find them.  We believe this is the right time to invest in Russia, especially when some investor[s] are doubting it.”

    Some foreigners remaining in Russia are optimistic that the sweet taste of success will return.  Peter Richter, a Belgian expat living in Moscow for more than 20 years, attended the exhibit.  He believes Russia’s economy will recover and says those foreigners and businesses that stay will benefit.

    “If you stick around, you obviously get a ...gain, a competitive edge on those that have left,” he says.  “I mean, it was the same thing in the ...after the '98 crisis when ...lots of companies left the country.  Those who stuck around, they eventually grew much faster than those who had to fight their way back into the market.”

    Before Russia's economic crisis, Moscow was one of the most expensive cities in the world.  

    But while Russians are kicked around by their tumbling currency, the ruble, foreigners paying in dollars or euros are finding life here a lot more affordable.  

    You May Like

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 05, 2016 5:21 PM
    The expats brought the very skills Russia desperately needs to evolve its economy and technology. This is a disastrous loss for Russia. It's not just the products it can buy from the west but the know how in technological and managerial skills that's being lost. This can only accelerate Russia's decline. It should hardly come as a surprise though. It's just one more way Russia is being isolated. The long term damage Putin has done will echo down through generations denying future Russians of what might have been in life for them.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora