According to the newspaper, the figures are a sign of the effectiveness of a recently created government program which is aimed at encouraging Russians living abroad to come back home. About a fifth of the Russian nationals who came back did so from European Union member countries, including the Czech Republic, France and Germany.
Natalia, a Russian who lived in the Czech Republic for nearly two decades before deciding to return, told Izvestia that an 'unbearable' level of Russophobia was the main factor driving her decision. "The situation has become really unbearable lately," she said. "The level of Russophobia has reached a level where in Prague you see cars with anti-Russian signs, and on the street you might get a rebuke if you speak in Russian."
"It was this groundless hatred for Russia which became the main motivation for me to return home after over 19 years living in the Czech Republic," Natalia said. Before returning, she worked as the director an art gallery in Prague.
Yan also said that intense state and media propaganda was a major factor that pushed him into making his decision. "The information in most media is distorted from the beginning to keep Europeans afraid of Russia. When you belong to a group that's under constant pressure, you become even more anxious to defend your nation or country. A patriotic mood swells within you. In the end, you become tired of constantly justifying [your country] and decide to go back to where your home really is," he said.
Many educated professionals said that problems in finding jobs which match their skillsets due to the language barrier also impacted their decisions to return to Russia. Arriving in Europe, many face the prospect of working in low-paying positions, while losing their skills from lack of use. As is common for immigrants, Russians in Europe also find it difficult to compete with locals for many jobs due to inferior language skills.
Furthermore, Ishkhan noted that the problem of belonging also influenced him. "Having lived abroad for a long time, I also came to the realization that I probably would never feel myself to be German," he said.
According to Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs, a total of 146,585 Russian citizens came home from life abroad in 2016. Ultimately, Izvestia wrote that if the political situation in the world doesn't change, and soon, 2017 will see even more Russians returning home.