Over the past year, many Belarusians have left the country. Some went to Europe, some preferred Russia. We talked with people who at different times moved from Belarus to Moscow and St. Petersburg. The interlocutors explained the reasons for the move and compared the two countries.
Some of our interlocutors have adapted to Russia, others still hope to return to their homeland, albeit with the proviso: “Not in the near future.” Not everyone agreed to give their full names.
Olga, 28 years old, a native of Vitebsk. 10 years ago I entered the St. Petersburg University, and so there I stayed in the city on the Neva: “I chose St. Petersburg because of the architecture and for personal reasons”.
Andrey Ovchinnikov, 47 years old, originally from Gomel. In Russia since 1996: “I moved to Russia because it was possible to earn money here. Now I live in Dmitrov, near Moscow. “
Alexey Lukashevich, 38 years old – a resident of Minsk. In Russia since autumn 2012. Works in Moscow. He is the administrator of the public in the VK Belarusians of Moscow and Moscow Region: “I decided to move to Russia after the protracted crisis of 2011. In Belarus, he was engaged in the auto business, organizing concerts. And then my projects collapsed. “
Grigory Alekseevich, 40 years old, was born in the Vitebsk region. 20 years ago he moved to St. Petersburg: “I got my education in Belarus. Once I decided for myself that in the system of given coordinates of Lukashenka, the prospects of a young specialist are minimal. I chose Peter because there was a direct bus from my city there. Conveniently. He sat down and drove off. “
Vladislav, 48, moved from Minsk to Moscow at the end of 1997: “I am a journalist. When I realized that in Belarus in the coming decades it would not be interesting to pursue a profession, I moved to Russia. There were no political motives. Rather, economic migration. Like many journalists, over time, he migrated to the field of PR. Why did you go to Moscow? Because the choice was limited. Either Moscow or St. Petersburg. Of course, Petersburg is a beautiful city, but the climate is terrible, as for me. “
Nikolay, 25 years old, was educated in Minsk. Works in St. Petersburg: “I stopped temporarily in St. Petersburg.”
Gennady, 30 years old , graduated from the university in Minsk. Three years ago he moved to St. Petersburg: “I liked the city, it looks like Amsterdam”.
“Out of 40 Belarusians who came with me, three remained”
– How long did it take to adapt? Did you have any problems with housing or work?
Olga: “It was difficult to adapt at first. I turned eighteen when I left home. I was just starting an independent life. After graduation, I easily found a job through special sites.
I don’t complain about the salary, you can earn good money everywhere. They say there is more corruption in Russia, but it seems to me that there is not less of it in Belarus. It’s just that things like this are revealed more often here. “
Andrey: “It was hard at first, sometimes I wanted to leave. Through word of mouth, I found a job in the construction industry. I didn’t have much choice. To live well, you need to plow everywhere from morning to night. There were no problems with housing. But it took time to adapt.
I remember earlier, when we worked as a watch, crossing the border, there was a feeling that you had returned home. Now, on the contrary, you are driving from Belarus, entering Russia – and you are at home. I noticed that in Belarus there are no people on the streets in the evenings, but in Moscow there are a lot. There is an explanation – everyone goes to work there in the morning. In Russia, half of the country does not work, so they go for walks at night. “
Alexey: “We came to Moscow with a friend. We rented an apartment from a friend. As for work, I was freelancing in Belarus, the salary depended on projects. Before the 2011 crisis, everything was going well with money. After that it got worse. In Russia, I posted my resume on popular resources. Passed an interview, got a job. It is not difficult to find a job, it is more difficult to determine the direction. Vacancies in my field in Belarus are paid much lower than in Moscow. ”
Grigory: “We came to St. Petersburg with a company of 40 people. Of the entire team, three remained with me. Many were knocked down by the bureaucracy, people left back. Some returned home when the ruble collapsed after 2014 and it became unprofitable to work. Part of them changed Russia to Europe. Someone is no longer alive.
I didn’t find a job right away. I searched through the newspaper Iz Ruk v Ruki. I noticed that here not all employers fulfilled their wage obligations. There was a moment when I wanted to change the city and look for another place to live.
In recent years, salaries have also become lower in Russia. And in order for a Belarusian to fully adapt here, 20 years will seem too little ”.
Vladislav: “It was difficult in the first year of my life here. But in the everyday sense, this is not hell, of course. Hell – when in the early 1930s the commissars came to my grandmother, dispossessed her, took away the house and exiled to the Chelyabinsk region. And then temporary difficulties arose, which recede as you get on your feet, you start earning.
The search for work in Moscow took place in the late 90s – early 2000s. It was a series of sheer luck. All through random personal contacts. The only way”.
Nikolay: “It took me a year to adapt. Difficult arose when looking for housing. Many who tried to deceive, sold rooms in a communal apartment and with a drinking contingent. It is not easy to find a decent job in St. Petersburg. I got a job at a construction site. Salaries only in St. Petersburg and Moscow are higher than in Belarus. And in the same Pskov region wages are low, in Russian villages people generally barely survive, drink too much. “
Gennady: “I found a place to live in 2 days and without agents. But there are a lot of scammers at every step. But it seems to be easy to find a job, but it is difficult to get a job. It took a while to find something suitable. Well, there was a supply of money for 3 months of normal life. Now I am comparing salaries here and in Belarus – in Russia it is one and a half times higher ”.
“Many were afraid to go here”
– Weren’t your acquaintances surprised that you left for Russia and not for Europe?
Olga: “It is a myth that the majority of Belarusians leave for Europe.”
Andrey: “There was no desire to move to Europe. And the majority of Belarusians prefer Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi and the north. I come from the city of facades (employees of a construction organization, perform facade work: insulation, plastering, painting, etc. – “MK” ). We have villages where only women remain in the spring, men go to work in Russia. “
Alexey: “Friends were surprised that I ended up in Russia. I studied in Poland. My car business was connected with Lithuania. But at the time of my move, Russia had become a popular destination among Belarusians in terms of work on construction sites, and in other areas as well ”.
Grigory: “I had to make a visa to Europe, receive an invitation, plus a language barrier. It’s easier for me in St. Petersburg. In fact, most Belarusians prefer to stay in their country. But the authorities have created such conditions that people are forced to look for a better life. “
Vladislav: “Now Belarusians are much more likely to leave for Europe or the States. “Light Option” – Kiev. I left the country in the nineties when we were mainly traveling to Russia. But again – to Moscow or St. Petersburg, no options. “
Nikolay: “The majority of Belarusians now go to Europe, because there are freer and more opportunities for self-development. After Russia began to hand over opponents of Lukashenka to representatives of the Belarusian KGB, many were afraid to go here. “
Gennady: “Only after the 2020 elections did the Belarusians take a closer look at Europe. Before that, most of them left for Russia. “
“I don’t need citizenship”
– Are you planning to obtain Russian citizenship?
Olga: “I am not planning to obtain Russian citizenship. The procedure takes a lot of time and money is needed. Moreover, the decrees are constantly changing, and there is a mess in the relevant authorities. “
Andrey: “You will have to change your citizenship. In Russia I have a family, a home. “
Alexey: “I got a residence permit. I had to run, stand in lines. I plan to apply for citizenship. “
Grigory: “I received Russian citizenship because I was tired of dealing with migration records and regulating relations with law enforcement officers in the metro. 15 years ago, when the police were the police, they let me go for 50 rubles. And when they became the police, they wouldn’t let them go for 300 rubles. I had to throw up to 500 or sit in a prop for two hours.
It’s calmer with a passport. Such incidents disappeared immediately. It turned out to be no more difficult for a Belarusian to obtain a passport of the Russian Federation than for Tajiks, Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. But if I knew what Russia would do in 2020 in relation to Belarus, I would not have received it at all ”.
Nikolay: “There is no Russian citizenship, and I am not going to apply. Russia has recently been using the issuance of citizenship to residents of neighboring states for political blackmail. “
Gennady: “I don’t need Russian citizenship”.
– Where are you more comfortable? Don’t you get tired of the rhythm of life here?
Olga: “Somewhere there are significant differences, somewhere not, depending on which region you live in. Comfort depends more on moral and financial condition, laws, rights and those conditions that we create for ourselves. St. Petersburg is relatively comfortable for me. But a house is a house, it is on a different perception. The rhythm of life also does not depend on the place. You can lie on the couch like a dumpling in the metropolis, or you can be active in the village. “
Andrei: “I would not say that there is a gigantic abyss between Russia and Belarus. I noticed the difference before. Now everything is settled. In Moscow, life flies quickly, in Belarus the pace is calm. For me, it’s more comfortable in Russia. “
Alexey: “There is a difference between Moscow and Minsk. No matter how much I love Minsk and feel warmly towards my hometown, Moscow is one of the world capitals. There is always movement, the city lives 24/7.
Minsk is calm and measured. Moscow flies forward without stopping. I like. This is my rhythm. Although fatigue builds up. But there is a vacation, a long weekend – and again forward. When I come to Belarus, the maximum is enough for me for a week of calmness. And outwardly, Moscow definitely wins. But, if we compare the cities near Moscow with the Belarusian ones, then the latter are more well-groomed. I love the Moscow drive, the movement, the people, the shops and the opportunities. ”
Grigory: “The difference between Belarus and Russia is colossal. For 20 years I have traveled Russia from Arkhangelsk to Ussuriisk. Belarus is a compact country with its own history, traditions, “mova”, I feel much more comfortable there. But there is one person, because of whom there is no desire to stay in Belarus ”.
Vladislav: “There is a difference between Russia and Belarus. What makes an elephant and a squirrel in common? They are both four-legged mammals. What’s the difference? In size and weight categories, as a result – in attitude and self-identification. So it is here. In terms of mentality, Belarusians are in many ways closer to the inhabitants of small European countries – Poles, Czechs or Slovaks. The Russians have an “imperial code” – there is no escape from this, this is genetics. Although, of course, it is not difficult for a Belarusian to adapt to Russia – due to the knowledge of the Russian language, and not only.
And “comfort” is not about the country at all, here is a completely different scale. Comfort is about the absence of stress, the presence of personal space, the ability to freely do what you dreamed of. I understand what a comfortable apartment, a comfortable city, and a comfortable job are. I feel stressful and drive in Moscow – but more and more comfort is lacking, this is a big problem. Previously, this is the opposite of a pearl. And with age I start to get tired. A lot of empty and unnecessary fuss, unnecessary show-off. “
Nikolay: “It’s more comfortable in Belarus, but you can’t always find a decent job. In Moscow and St. Petersburg, it is easier in this regard. As for everyday life – in some districts of Moscow and St. Petersburg, it may be comfortable. In general, no. Half of the residents of St. Petersburg and Moscow live on the outskirts. They spend hours in traffic jams, constantly on their nerves. It affects the mood. The rhythm is faster, especially in Moscow. But energetically Moscow is squeezing out. Peter is calmer, but traffic jams spoil the city. “
Gennady: “The difference is significant. In Russia, salaries are higher, there is a greater choice of services and goods. Housing rent is higher in St. Petersburg than in Minsk. But in Russia the administrative apparatus works worse – the MFC, the pension and others. Everywhere there are queues, laws – who both understand and interpret. And it’s more comfortable for me where my rights are respected and they do not go into private life. For my family, Russia is better in this regard. And the rhythm of life here is not very different from Belarus. Unless in Russia cities wake up later and people return home later. “
“Minsk is paralyzed by fear”
– Do you miss your homeland or has Russia already become home?
Olga: “I miss you a lot, I want to go back. I consider Peter my home in part. “
Andrey: “My home is in Russia. But if possible, I will go to Belarus for a visit ”.
Alexey: “For 10 years I got used to Moscow. I consider it my home. When I just arrived, I translated all prices into dollars, then into Belarusian rubles. Compared, looked what and how. Now it’s the other way around. I come to Belarus and translate everything into Russian rubles, compare Minsk establishments and shops with Moscow ones. If you want to return to your homeland, then take a break from the bustle of the city, return for a while to the Belarusian tranquility. “
Grigory: “You always want to go home. There is my homeland, from there my father, grandfather, great-grandfather. I am sure that the time will come and I will return to my land. I will do my best in this direction. “
Vladislav: “Naturally, I consider Moscow my home, where I have spent more than 20 years. The streets of Minsk are now deserted and sad. People are paralyzed by fear.
I know Moscow quite well, I am interested in its history, there are areas that are especially dear to me. But in general, I do not breathe with the concept of “home”. It’s not forever. You go somewhere else, or you die – and someone else will live in this house, this is normal. “
Nikolay: “Let’s just say I care about Peter. But I miss Belarus ”.
Gennady: “Home is where you are expected. My wife is waiting here every day. I don’t miss my homeland, but I want to see my loved ones more often. But I still can’t say that Russia has replaced my home. “
“Previously, all products were taken from home, but this is in the past.”
Question: “There is an opinion that food in Belarus is better and cheaper, clothes are worse, medicine is so-so.”
Olga: “The products are about the same. There are goods of low quality both in the Republic of Belarus and in the Russian Federation. Unless you can buy good foreign cheese in Belarus. But about the cheapness of food in Belarus, this is a myth. About 10 years ago, maybe it was. Now there is not much difference in price. Something is cheaper, something is more expensive, but not significantly. About clothes – there is a typical mass market in Minsk, but not in such quantity as in St. Petersburg. But in Belarus there are many designer brands, small brands with an excellent selection of clothes. Plus they bring something from Europe. And medicine is better where there are acquaintances and money. “
Andrei: “Before, indeed, food was transported from Belarus. Everything seemed to be there and the quality was better. Now all the same can be bought here, only there was money. And the people in Belarus dress better than the Russians. Medicine is better in Russia. “
Alexey: “With clothes in Moscow it is much better – there are more stores, brands, outlets and sales. Communicating with friends from Belarus, I always invite them to Moscow for clothes. ”
Grigory: “I buy only Belarusian products in Russia. Sour cream, cheese, sausage, condensed milk, cottage cheese, fish, kvass, chocolate – everything can be found in St. Petersburg. The bread is only worse here. It is far from Belarus, so there are no supplies. But food prices in St. Petersburg are cheaper. Because the formation of the internal price for the consumer in Belarus is not dealt with by the market economy, but by ministries and statements. Decent clothes in Belarus can be found, in extreme cases, make a purchase on a Polish or Lithuanian website. But I gave the clothes I bought in Belarus to the St. Petersburg flophouse on Borovaya. Hope those sweaters and shirts came in handy. Until recently, medicine was cheaper and more accessible in Belarus ”.
Nikolay: “The cost of the products is approximately the same. There is a normal choice of clothes in Minsk, why do you have such stereotypes? “
Gennady: “In fact, there is no difference between Russian and Belarusian products. In St. Petersburg, at first, decent discounts surprised. In Belarus, it came out one and a half times more expensive for the same goods. Medicine is of better quality in Russia, but not in government institutions. “
Masters of disguise
– How do Russians differ from Belarusians? Can you spot your compatriots in the crowd?
Olga: “Belarusians are quieter and more modest, less selfish. Do I recognize my compatriots? Are we really different in appearance? There were cases when I communicated with people and only later found out that they were also from Belarus ”.
Andrey: “Yes, there are no differences, people just exist in different rhythms. Here life flies, and there it flows. Probably, Belarusians are more welcoming. But Moscow cannot be used to judge Russians. There are many visitors to the capital. And in 10 years it will increase. I recognize my own if only by their accent. “
Aleksey: “Belarusians are more closed, in themselves. The guys with whom I talked in Moscow are open, I would describe them with an English phrase – “open mind people”. The words of the song of the “Syabry” ensemble – “to walk like that” can also be attributed to the Russians. There is life today and now. Tomorrow we’ll think about when tomorrow comes.
Belarusians live with caution and think what will happen tomorrow, what the neighbors will say. We are more dependent on other people’s opinions. But it is difficult to recognize the Belarusians in the crowd, they are still partisans. Not everyone immediately admits that he is Belarusian ”.
Grigory: “Belarusians have preserved their identity, culture, language and are proud of it. Belarusians behave more dear, calmer, more modest. And here some people will take “iPhones” on credit, and at the same time eat instant noodles, but with ambition, as if Poincaré’s hypothesis was proved. And they drink more here.
Will I count from the crowd of mine? I will say this: Belarusian is Belarusian to Belarusian ”.
Vladislav: “It’s hard to compare, because“ Russians ”are not a monolithic concept, not a homogeneous one. For example: Avar, Karelian and Kalmyk – their mentality, customs, languages are very different, although they are all three Russians. Perhaps, it is much easier for a Russian from Penza to find a common language with a Belarusian from Gomel than with an Avar from Makhachkala. On the other hand, over the past centuries, Belarusians have intertwined families with neighbors, especially after the Great Patriotic War, when a lot of people from other Soviet regions came to Belarus.
I myself am from a “mixed” Russian-Belarusian family, so I probably have the right to a version. It seems to me that the Belarusian, on average, is more secretive and restrained in the manifestation of feelings and emotions. As a rule, he will not give his neighbor the last shirt – but then he will not teach him how to live. It is generally accepted that one of the key features of the Belarusian character is “pamyarkoўnasts”. In Russian it means “moderation”. I recognize mine only sometimes by their accent. And outwardly – no, of course. Belarusians are the descendants of partisans, that is, masters of disguise and even mimicry. He will come to Canada – in a year he is almost Canadian. “
Nikolay: “Belarusians are a more European nation, more industrious people in their bulk. The Belarusians are even kinder. I do not always recognize my fellow countrymen ”.
“I’m not interested in the Russian agenda”
– Do you follow the Belarusian news or have you switched to the Russian agenda? “
Olga: “I have always followed and follow the Belarusian news. I discuss Russian news with my entourage, share my thoughts. I am not indifferent to what is happening in the country in which I live ”.
Andrei: “Of course, I follow the Belarusian events. Sometimes it is scary and painful for the people who follow American propaganda. I don’t watch Russian channels – the same people come to power, but in politics there are only empty words. ”
Aleksey: “My news feed contains about 50 to 50 Belarusian and Russian news. I live in Russia, work, plan to obtain citizenship, so everything that happens here is close to me. However, I don’t argue about the Russian agenda, I don’t go to rallies. I think that as long as I am a citizen of another country, I have no moral right to express my opinion or argue. “
Grigory: “I am not interested in the Russian agenda only if in the context of the Belarusian topic. I don’t go to rallies. I will go in the event that Russia’s actions will directly affect the sovereignty of the Republic of Belarus, its integrity. “
Vladislav: “I regularly follow and worry about Belarus”.
Nikolay: “I only follow the Belarusian news. I look at Russian news from the outside, I don’t interfere. “
Gennady: “80 to 20 – in the ratio of the news of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation. What is happening in Russia does not concern me. “
“Not everyone understands what is happening in Belarus”
– Do you come across Russians who are not aware of what is happening in Belarus?
Olga: “Yes. This is primarily due to the kind of news a person reads. Someone thinks that all the events in Belarus took place only in August 2020, now there is silence. After all, information about Belarus is not displayed on the front pages of the Russian media ”.
Andrey: “People are in the subject, but not everyone understands what is happening there. And in Belarus itself, not everyone understands. “
Aleksey: “The Belarusian agenda is on everyone’s lips. Someone knows more, someone less. But everyone has heard about the events. “
Grigory: “In my environment, people, though not quite young, do not watch TV. Information is obtained from other sources. Therefore, they are aware of what is happening in Belarus ”.
Vladislav: “Basically, people here have some idea of the events in Belarus. But their personal optics vary greatly depending on their sources of information. For viewers of Russian state TV channels, there is only one Belarus. For readers of telegram channels – another. “
Nikolay: “Everyone knows. Russians understand, sympathize and morally support the Belarusian people ”.
Gennady: “Quite often I meet those who are not in the subject. But my friends in the Russian Federation are aware of everything. They treat with understanding. “
“Russia is approaching the Belarusian scenario”
“You feel free in Russia, isn’t it so scary here as in Belarus?”
Olga: “No, I don’t feel freer. Scary both there and there. But in Minsk, people are even scared to go out and go to the store. It became dangerous to breathe there. There are at least some rights here, and while the lawyers are working. Although it seems to me that Russians do not feel free in their rights either. “
Andrey: “Who told you that living in Belarus is scary? Do not break the law – and it will not be scary everywhere. And what is freedom? Permissiveness from bad upbringing. “
Grigory: “I’m afraid you will soon be scared to live. While we are watching one series with you. Only Belarus is in the sixth season out of seven, and you are only in the second. In this regard, Belarus is approaching its climax. The Russians, of course, are freer, but this is not for long. “
Vladislav: “In 1997 I left for a freer country than the then Belarus. Now the difference in this sense has disappeared. It’s alarming. “
Gennady: “I would not say that I feel free. It is easier for the Russians in this regard. “
Nikolay: “I feel a little freer. But Russia is already approaching the Belarusian scenario. Getting close”.
“I look forward to the opportunity to return safely”
– How often do you come to Belarus and plan to return to your homeland?
Olga: “I come home about twice a year. I am always glad to be at home. And I’m waiting for the opportunity to return. I’ll go back there completely when it’s safe. The choice of my permanent residence is obvious – Belarus. After all, this is my homeland, my home, family, history and culture. I respect Russia and do not go with my samovar. There are simply situations when you need to stay here at the current time. “
Andrey: “I come to Belarus a couple of times a year. For me, there is already a different rhythm of life. This is when you are already determined to run, but you have to go. My home is Russia, because she gave me everything. “
Aleksey: “I used to come to Belarus more often. He left after work on Friday, returned on Sunday. Now I travel more on holidays or long weekends. I don’t want to live there. When I get tired of the movement and want peace of mind, then, perhaps, I will return to Belarus. For now, I just want to be able to be at home more often. As for the choice of the country, I will answer this way: God loves the trinity, so before deciding on the country, I would like to live somewhere else. “
Grigory: “Now I rarely ride home. In the old days, it happened twelve times a year. There is no desire to return to present-day Belarus, but there is a need. I will definitely return there once and for all, when the Belarusian people will be able to choose their own government, when those who imprisoned people only because they wanted a better life will answer according to the law. ”
Vladislav: “I do not promise to live my whole life in Russia.”
Nikolay: “I would like to travel to Belarus more often, but covid and repressions make their own adjustments. When the country is free from the dictatorship, I will definitely return. This is my homeland, a European country with great potential. “
Gennady: “I used to go once every six months. Less often now. Sooner or later I will return to Belarus for good. This is my home. When? Time will tell. “