Many hundreds of thousands of Russians have fled their ever-more authoritarian country since the start of Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, joining a global exile community that had already been growing for years. They include leaders of the political opposition, civil society and media who have long opposed the Kremlin, are natural allies against Russia’s war in Ukraine, and a key hope for reestablishing any future free and open Russian society.

Experts Alexander Abashkin, Dmitry Dubrovsky and Maria Yudkevich described how Russian scholars in exile are trying to keep teaching, researching and preserving Russia’s intellectual capital for future generations in a virtual discussion moderated by Gregory Feifer. The third in a series of conversations about Russian exiles sponsored by the Institute of Current World Affairs, American Purpose and US Institute of Peace.


Alexander Abashkin is a Russian higher education professional who has been involved in developing Russian-American academic ties for the past 30 years. He is currently based in Tbilisi, where he is a coordinator of the Scholars Without Borders project run by the Harvard Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Previously, he was vice rector of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, where he oversaw international projects, and head of the Center for International Projects at the Russian Academy of National Economy.

Dmitry Dubrovsky is a researcher in the Department of Social Sciences at Charles University in Prague. An expert on human rights in Russia, he was previously associate professor of international relations, political science, and human rights at St. Petersburg State University. He was also associate professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and has taught at Columbia University, Bard College and the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Maria Yudkevich is an expert in comparative higher education based in Tel Aviv. Until this year, she was a distinguished professor and head of the Center for Institutional Studies at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, where she was also a vice-rector for research. She is co-editor of the book Academic Star Wars: Excellence Initiatives in Global Perspectives.




Gregory Feifer is executive director of the Institute of Current World Affairs. A journalist who lived in Russian for almost 10 years, he is a former NPR Moscow correspondent and author of Russians: The People Behind the Power. He has written for The New York TimesForeign Affairs and The Washington Post, among other outlets, and is currently working on a book about the opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.



Upcoming panel

Post-Putinist Russia
10 a.m. ET, January 16, 2024

What are the plausible scenarios for a post-authoritarian Russia? What are the main challenges facing institutional and social reform, including decolonialization, the understanding of history and Russian identity, interests of minority regions? What roles should the US and other Western countries be playing, what lessons learned from the post-Soviet 1990s? The National Endowment for Democracy’s Miriam Lanskoy will moderate a hybrid conversation at the US Institute of Peace with the economist Sergei Guriev, writer Mikhail Zygar, and Free Russia Foundation President Natalia Arno. Registration coming soon.

Previous panels

Video: Russia’s new exiles: an overview

How do they deal with the assigning of collective guilt? How can Western countries tap their human capital in the battle for liberal democracy?

Video: Political opposition in exile

Who are they, what are they doing, planning, main challenges? Political activity inside vs. outside Russia, constituencies inside Russia.

Top photo: Moscow State University (Vyacheslav Argenberg, Wikimedia Commons)