In recent weeks, Internet searches for terms such as flights, visas or political asylum have increased in particular in Russia. And it is that since the invasion of Ukraine thousands of citizens have abandoned their homes in the country. Some because of economic sanctions and others because they fear being forced to fight on the front lines.
But many, as is the case of the Russian comedian Denis Chuzhoy, decided to go into exile Turkey for his opposition to the government and the war: “We thought that nothing good would happen to Russia in the next few years, so we could start a new life in another country.”
There are several reasons why the Russians decide to come to istanbul after leaving their homes. Although other countries have closed their airspace to Russia, there are still direct flights to here. Also, they can stay here for months without a visa. Still, it’s not easy.
Once they arrive in Turkey, the exiles can go to “The ark“, a support group dedicated to helping Russian immigrants who condemn the invasion of Ukraine and financed by the exiled tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
The co-founders of the organization’s Turkish branch say they have received thousands of help requests and that, for the moment, you have helped 250 personas.
Eva Rapport, co-founder of the Turkish branch of El Arca, explains:“Many people left because otherwise they had a high chance of being arrested and serving a prison sentence just for saying that the war is wrong and that they are against it. But in Turkey it is not easy to find a job and the language is also a problem.
The money of Russian citizens is becoming a support for the fragile Turkish economy, especially to support the tourism sector. According to government statistics, Russians were the top foreign buyers of real estate in May.
Looking for a new home
Denis plans to find a long-term home in the United States or Europe. But he says that Istanbul is giving him the opportunity to consolidate his career as an English comedian. And he is finding some comfort through his jokes.
“When you write jokes, you’re basically telling the problems in your life. Pretty much your whole job is to rewrite your life to make it better than it really is,” the comedian confesses.
Other destinations to which Russian exiles go are Israel, Armenia y Georgiabut they recognize that Turkey offers a more affordable life.