The wave began with the invasion of Ukraine. The Mongolians seek friendly neutrality towards Russia; they also send humanitarian aid to the Ukrainians. For many Russian citizens of Asian origin, Mongolia is a fraternal and welcoming country.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The new wave of emigration from Russia, which began after the disastrous 24 February, has also reached Mongolia, a country that Russians traditionally regard as undeveloped, or at best exotic. The website Sibir.Realii has tried to understand why today it has become attractive to people seeking to escape the warlike and oppressive climate imposed by the Kremlin.
In the British organisation The Economist Intelligence Unit's index assessing democracies, Mongolia ranked 62nd in 2019, while Russia shared 134th place with Congo. During a recent visit to Ulan-Bator, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the country a 'symbol of peace in a restless planet', an example in the midst of so many dramatic geopolitical contradictions and the incessant multiplication of conflicts.
The Mongolian government tries to maintain a friendly neutrality towards Russia. The Mongolian delegation at the UN abstained in March from the US-sponsored resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and at the same time the Mongolians are very generous in sending humanitarian aid to the Ukrainians themselves. As the Mongolian political scientist Tuvshinzaya Gantulga wrote in The Diplomat, 'these measures are certainly not enough, but they are important, given that Russia almost completely controls Mongolia's energy supplies and is trying hard to exert pressure for it to openly side with it'.
Aldar Erendženov comes from the republic of Kalmykia, a Buddhist region in European Russia, and says he 'rushed to Mongolia after our anti-war demonstrations', being an activist of the 'Non-Russian' association. Aldar left his clothing shop in Elista; he had already had to move to Moscow in 2019, to avoid arrest after protests against the election of the mayor of the capital city of Chaluz, Dmitry Trapeznikov, one of the leaders of the separatist republic of Lugansk, sent by Putin to the province to prevent him from making more trouble in Ukraine.
The FSB services accompanied Trapeznikov's appointment with a strong crackdown on calmucchi citizens unhappy with the choice, and in April this year Aldar fled to Ulan-Bator, threatened by a charge of 'inciting interethnic hatred', having reiterated on Instagram the Non-Russian manifesto: "We are citizens of the Russian Federation, proud to call ourselves Oyrat, Sakha, Buryat, Tatar... we have never accepted forced Russification, Christianisation and censorship of our languages and cultures, deportation and genocide, we are the nie-russkij mir! ".
Like Aldar, many Russian citizens of Asian descent regard Mongolia as a fraternal and welcoming country, where they used to visit or holiday, hike in the mountains and live for a few days in the yurt, the typical tent-habitation of these places. In addition, Mongolia is easily accessible, all you have to do is go to Buryatia, the Russian Mongolian region, and take a bus, with no special border controls. This is why it has become a popular destination not only for Russian Asians, the so-called 'čurki' in popular pejorative language, but also for many Russians who are not particularly well-off and who cannot organise a flight via Armenia and Istanbul to reach Spanish beaches or Tuscan villas.
Mongolia welcomes Russians with a great spirit of fraternity, due to the natural goodness of its people and the memory of the many historical events that link it to the Muscovite empire, which they once dominated and from which they were emancipated with respect to the aims of the Chinese in more recent times.
Most Russian migrants are Burians, and are indistinguishable from the locals, but dissidents to the Ukrainian war, from all regions, are viewed by the locals with equal warmth. As Siberian tourists, the Russians in Mongolia today seek medicines and products now banned in their homeland, they seek above all a Eurasian smile, without ideologies or cravings for conquest.