Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine is forcing thousands of Russians to flee their country

Istanbul, Turkey – A large, mostly Russian audience recently pulsed on music from a stage in Turkey. The message that roared from the speakers was for the whole world to hear.

“No to war!” shouted prominent Russian rapper Oxxxymiron from the audience. He gave a voice to the many Russians who do not support their president war in Ukraine,

Oxxxymiron’s March concert in Istanbul, the proceeds of which went to help expelled Ukrainians, attracted a large crowd of like-minded Russians. Many had recently left their country in protest of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Russia’s neighbor in the west.

Anti-war rap concert by Russian rapper Oxxxymiron, in Istanbul
People hold anti-war placards for a rap concert to benefit Ukraine, by Russian rapper Oxxxymiron, in Istanbul, Turkey, March 15, 2022.

DILARA SENKAYA / REUTERS


While it turned out compared to the roughly 4.6 million Ukrainians expelled from their country by the war, an estimated 200,000 people fled Russia in the first 10 days of the invasion alone.

Adrei Andreev was among them. The 35-year-old pianist left Russia shortly after the attack on Ukraine began on February 24 – a few weeks before giving a concert in St. Petersburg. Petersburg.

After studying in the United States, Andreev established himself as an artist in St. Petersburg. Petersburg. But the war shattered his confidence in Russia.

“The situation in Ukraine made many Russians worried about their future, about their careers and security,” he told CBS News.

Now he seeks solace in Beethoven’s symphonies, hoping that his self-imposed exile will be temporary.

Speaking against the war in Russia now has serious consequences. Independent analysts say more than 15,000 people in Russia have been arrested for protesting the war.

Putin signed a law weeks ago, making it a crime to refer to the war itself as a “war”, criminalizing any reporting that contradicts his government’s version of what it calls the “special military operation” in Ukraine.


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Independent Russian journalist Gleb Pianykh and his family arrived in Turkey a few weeks ago. He is now reporting from Istanbul.

“I have a lot of comments on my reports,” he told CBS News. “Half of them are, ‘You’re the traitor; you’re not a patriot; get out, never come back to Russia.’

Pianykh said the government’s propaganda, provided by the state-run official media channels, dominated the story of the war in Russia, and even some of his friends believed the bizarre claims.

“I asked them all, ‘Do you not understand who is bombing Kharkiv, Kiev, all the cities, do you not understand?’ “Those are the Ukrainians, Ukrainians themselves are bombing the cities,” they say. They say, “Because we see it on TV.”


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The reporter’s courage and determination to continue telling the truth came at a cost. He left a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle in Moscow for an empty apartment in a suburb of Istanbul.

“You do not allow me to call this war a war, what should I do as a journalist?” asked is rhetorical. “Well, I escape.”

While the war continues to increase Russia’s isolation on the world stage, Vladimir Putin’s country also seems to be losing many of its best and brightest citizens.


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