According to former President Dmitry Medvedev, those who quit Russia should be barred from returning.

The outspoken senior official suggested that those who oppose Russia’s war on Ukraine would be barred from returning to the country.

“Although it would be better for them not to return.”

A traitor who so hates his country that he calls for its defeat and destruction must be regarded as a “hostis publicus,” the Deputy Chairman of the Russia Security Council wrote in his Telegram channel.

The outbreak of the war in Ukraine saw an unprecedented exodus of hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens. According to unofficial estimates, around 900,000 Russians left their homeland during the first eight months since the start of the conflict. This mass displacement was made up of both those living in Ukraine and those who returned to Russia after spending time abroad. The influx overwhelmed Russian border services, sparked a diplomatic row between Russia and other countries, and provided a stark illustration of the scale of sentiment against the war in Russia. 

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Given their numbers, it is unsurprising that these individuals had various motivations for fleeing Russia. Economic hardship is probably one of the most influential factors driving people away from their homeland; due to sanctions and political uncertainty, many opted to seek better opportunities outside their native country. Others were motivated by security concerns; reports from refugees indicate that many feared conscription into service in Ukraine or elsewhere by pro-Russian forces. Moreover, this diaspora has also included activists opposed to the Ukrainian invasion and the increasingly oppressive regime within Russia. 

Despite its size, this community remains dispersed across numerous host countries, including Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. This lack of centralization limits our ability to analyze this exodus further. It also speaks to its complicated nature; it is composed not only of refugees seeking asylum but also labor migrants and businesspeople looking for new opportunities abroad. Some have returned home after several months, while others attempt to secure residency permits in host states or even claim citizenship status if eligible. In addition, some have successfully applied for political asylum abroad – although it must be noted that such applications can take multiple years to process even with substantial evidence indicating persecution back home.

Medvedev said these people should be defined as enemies of the state, whether or not anyone initiates administrative or criminal cases against them.