Russia’s Wealthiest Selling Apartments in Moscow and Fleeing Country, Realtors Say

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, August 14, 2013) Many in the Russian Federation and the West were shocked when European countries recently published figures showing that thousands of Russians are now seeking asylum or at least permanent residence abroad, but Russian realtors say that behind these numbers is an even more disturbing one.

Ever more wealthy Russians are selling not only their dachas outside the Russian capital, a trend Russian realty companies have been reporting for “many months” but also their apartments in the central portions of Moscow in advance of leaving the country (3rm.info/37916-krysy-begut-s-korablyaneuzheli-konec-rossii.html).

This trend has already driven down prices down and left many properties vacant, realtors say, creating a situation which neither the Russian government nor anyone else is likely to be able to cope, according to the 3rm.info site which reported these developments yesterday in an article entitled “Rats Fleeing a Sinking Ship.”

“For many months,” the site says, realty specialists have been surprised by the emptying out of elite dachas in Rublevka, Novaya Riga, and other “‘golden’ places” near Moscow.  But the departure of their owners abroad in 2010 and 2011 was viewed as a temporary phenomenon and thus did not generate many concerns.

Because so many wealthy Russians have now stayed abroad so long, however, many of these villages now resemble “specters” of their former selves, “in place of wealthy masters in the houses remain only a few lonely servants, and in place of electric lights in the evening, there is the dead light of the moon.”

Now, realtors like the Frank Knight Agency say, the 3m.info site says, the situation has become much more worrisome because “the [Russian] elite is beginning to sell its apartments in the center of Moscow. For the first time in many years, prices of Arbat, Tver, and Khamovnichi apartments in [the Russian capital] are falling.”

What is happening, the site continues, is a repetition of something that has happened many times elsewhere in the past, when elites are prepared to sell off everything into order “save themselves and carry their children to a quiet harbor” when they feel threatened by the rise of ethnically alien groups and the political turmoil that the site says will follow.

“If you look around,” this Orthodox and Russian nationalist site continues, “there are now whole districts where Slavs do not appear on the streets in the evenings” because of their fears about the behavior of immigrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus and of workers from non-Russian regions of the Russian Federation.

What is especially disturbing, the 3rm.info site continues, is the attitude of the authorities. Sergey Sobyanin has proposed resettling Moscow pensioners outside of the city.  That could have serious consequences because “95 percent of Moscow pensioners are Slavs ­ Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians.” If they are sent away, there won’t be any mass group to protest the influx of the non-Slavs.

And that in turn means, this site says, that “the day is not far distant when the number of immigrants from the southern republics who have gained a Russian passport and also the residents of non-Slavic Russia will be sufficient to guarantee any candidate of the Kremlin 50 percent of the votes, even if all the Slavs of the country will vote against” him or her.

“That day,” it concludes, “will be the last day in the history of Russia,” and its possible approach explains why those who can sell their properties for large sums and move abroad are choosing to do so ­ even though their departure is exacerbating the very problem for others that they may be able to avoid.

Of course, the wealthiest may very well be fleeing not just for ethnic reasons but for others as well, but the trend this site calls attention to is one that is certain to frighten many around the Kremlin, even if there is little they can do to change it unless they are ready for a whole shift in the direction of the country as a whole.

Article also appeared at http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/08/window-on-eurasia-russias-wealthiest.html