April 4, 2019 / 3:31 PM / 2 months ago

Almost half of young Russians want to emigrate, Gallup poll says

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Forty-four percent of Russians aged 15-29 want to emigrate as their economy stagnates, according to a survey by the pollster Gallup.

The poll, based on 2,000 face-to-face interviews conducted in 2018, indicated that 20 percent of all Russians wanted to move abroad, the highest share since 2007, when it stood at 17 percent.

Young people of working age were most keen to leave, something that Gallup said threatened Russia’s future economic position and political influence.

“While not all of these Russians will move, the higher desire in recent years should concern Moscow,” it said.

Russia’s population declined last year for the first time in a decade, to 146.8 million, Gallup noted.

Among 30-45 year-olds, 22 percent wanted to move abroad permanently. The most sought-after destinations overall were Germany and the United States.

As recently as 2014, the year Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, only 14 percent of 15-29 year-olds and 7 percent of 30-45 year-olds said they wanted to move away.

Pollsters attribute the souring mood to disillusionment with five consecutive years of falling real incomes and government moves to raise the retirement age and increase value added tax.

An opinion poll in January indicated that public trust in Putin, re-elected last year with more than 76 percent of the vote, had fallen to its lowest level in 13 years.

Although his 60 percent approval rating was still high by Western standards, it was far off the 90 percent he used to score.

Gallup said Russia was in danger of exceeding the 8 percent population loss that the United Nations currently projects by 2050.

Editing by Kevin Liffey

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