Datablog | Russian émigrés in Georgia

A pro-Ukraine and anti-Russia protest organised by Russians in Tbilisi, 26 November 2023. Photo: Anna Edgar/OC Media

After the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, tens of thousands of Russian nationals moved to Georgia, with many choosing to stay. A CRRC survey found that Russian respondents  in Georgia believe that Russia is not a democracy, have mixed views about Georgia’s political direction, and feel relatively secure in Georgia. 

After Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Georgia emerged as a popular destination for Russian citizens fleeing their country. According to the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs, between February and September 2022, about 100,000 Russian nationals entered the country and chose to stay. 

Many Georgians are concerned about the influx and believe it might have a detrimental impact on the country, and the attitudes of Russian émigrés about both Georgia and Russian politics have been hotly debated. 

To understand these attitudes, in the spring and early summer of 2023, CRRC-Georgia employing non-probability based sampling methods, polled over 1,000 Russian nationals who emigrated to Georgia after February 2022. The data show that, at least for those surveyed, Russians in Georgia left due to the war, seeking security, and feel they have found it in Georgia. With regard to politics, the Russians surveyed are extremely negative about Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatively positive about opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and believe that Russia is not a democracy. 

Migrating to Georgia

The poll asked respondents to name the primary reasons for choosing Georgia. A plurality of respondents (28%) cited security in Georgia. One in six (17%) mentioned the cost of living, and one in seven (14%) mentioned the ease of getting to Georgia. No more than 10% of respondents named the other available response options.

Three quarters of those surveyed (74%) report they have at least one Georgian friend. Nearly half (44%) reported having a Georgian friend before coming to Georgia after February 2022. More than half of the respondents (57%) stated they made new Georgian friends after moving to the country.

A majority (78%) say they are very or quite satisfied with their life in Georgia. One in six (16%) are neither satisfied nor unsatisfied. One in twenty (6%) report they are very or rather unsatisfied with life in Georgia.


Most Russians feel physically secure living in Georgia. A third of the respondents (33%) felt very safe, and 56% said they felt quite safe. Only 8% reported feeling neither safe nor unsafe, and 3% said they felt very unsafe or rather unsafe.

Since moving to Georgia, nine in ten respondents (89%) opened a bank account, two-thirds (68%) received money transfers from Russia, three in ten (30%) opened or registered a business, and 6% purchased real estate. 

The reported duration of respondents’ stays in Georgia is mixed, with a large share uncertain of how long they’ll stay. Half (49%) plan to remain in Georgia for at least a year. A further 14% plan to spend more than six months, but less than a year. One in twenty (6%) plan to stay for more than four months, but no more than six. Other periods were reported by less than 5% of the sample. A quarter of the Russians surveyed Russians (25%) have yet to decide how long they will remain in Georgia.

The émigrés overwhelmingly trust Georgians.  Nine in ten (91%) fully or mostly trust residents of Georgia, while only 8% say that they do not trust Georgians.

Attitudes towards Georgian politics

The Russians surveyed tend to think Georgia qualifies as a democracy, but they are divided over the scale of its political issues. More than a third of the respondents think Georgia is either a full democracy (3%) or a democracy with minor problems (35%). Slightly over half believe Georgia is a democracy with major problems (56%). Only 3% consider Georgia not at all democratic, and the remaining 3% do not know.

The émigrés generally rate Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili’s performance negatively, whereas they primarily rate that of President Salome Zurabishvili positively. Only 19% of respondents thought the PM's performance was very or quite positive, whereas 74% said the President's performance was very or quite positive.

Leaving Russia

Similar to earlier studies of displaced Russians in Georgia, the major reasons for leaving Russia were the political situation in Russia, the conflict in Ukraine, and the ‘partial’ mobilisation that took place in September 2022. The political situation in Russia was cited by an overwhelming majority of responders (87%). 73% mentioned the conflict with Ukraine. Slightly less than a third (29%) of Russians polled stated the announcement of 'partial' mobilisation was among the primary triggers prompting their departure.

The polled Russians maintain regular contact with their friends and family who remain in Russia. A little more than a quarter of those polled (27%) said they communicated with friends and family in Russia on a daily basis. Half of those polled indicated they spoke with them at least once a week. 16% indicated they spoke with friends and family in Russia at least once a month but not every week. Fewer respondents reported talking with friends and family less often.  

Moreover, the interviewed Russians have no plans to return to Russia anytime soon. The vast majority of Russians polled (93%) said they would not return to Russia in the foreseeable future.

Attitudes towards Russian politics

When questioned about their overall opinion of Russia, respondents tend to assess the country unfavourably. Two-thirds (66%) of Russians in the survey had negative feelings about Russia. A little more than a quarter of them (28%) were optimistic, while 6% were unsure and refused to answer the question.

Respondents trust other Russians who left more than those that stayed. While 76% of respondents reported trusting Russians who left, 49% reported trusting Russians who stayed.

The respondents were certain that Russia does not qualify as a democracy, with 94% reporting Russia is not a democracy at all. 

Respondents tend to evaluate Russian President Vladimir Putin very negatively and Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny quite positively. Nine in ten respondents (89%) assessed Putin’s performance very negatively, and 5% rather negatively. Eight in ten respondents (79%) assessed Navalny’s performance positively.

The Russians interviewed in the above survey overwhelmingly left due to the war, and came to Georgia for security. The above data suggests they have found it, and they are satisfied with life here. They have relatively positive views of Georgia’s democracy, while assessing President Zurabishvili positively and Prime Minister Gharibashvili negatively. They tend to hold highly negative views of Putin, and quite positive views of Navalny. They recognise Russia is not a democracy.

This blog is based on a larger report, available here.

NOTE: Due to the non-probability sampling method, the results are only applicable to the respondents (N=1008) and not to the whole population of Russian citizens residing in Georgia.  

This article was written by Givi Silagadze, a researcher at CRRC Georgia. The opinions are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of NED, CRRC Georgia or any other related entity.

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