The state of affairs in Russia looks bad.
All independent media are either closed down or blocked. Facebook and Twitter are blocked. More than 13,000 people have been arrested because of anti-war protests. You can get to jail for 15 years for "spreading false information about the special operation in Ukraine." The currency has devalued to half of its value. Foreign firms are pulling out, leaving people jobless. It is also feared that Putin may start sending more people to the war.
At the same time prediction markets give 65% chance that Russia will close its borders this month. No surprise that people are trying to get out while they can.
But it's getting hard. Europe and US have closed their airspace to flights from Russia. Some countries (Czechia, Lithuania) even paused issuing visas to Russians. The rumors are that the short trip from St.Petersburg to Helsinki costs 9,000 EUR.
Lobbying governments for easing visa procedures and fast-tracking the requests seems to be a highly effective strategy to deal with this complex situation (providing permanent residences and eventually citizenship can be dealt with later):
1. From a purely humanitarian perspective, the less people stay behind the new iron curtain, the better.
2. The emigrants are very likely self-selected professionals, programmers, technicians, managers, entrepreneurs etc. Productive middle class, in short. The country that accepts them is going to reap the economic benefits. This can make it easier to sell the proposal to the governments.
3. Every brain brought to safety is one brain less that Putin can use to build new, more destructive weapons. This could lower the existential risk. It could be also used as an argument for the us-vs-them-minded people in the government who don't care about the economic argument.
I am a Russian passport-holder who spent most of my life in the UK and US. I've been a quiet member of the EA community for a couple of years now. Happened to be in Russia when the invasion started. I'm in the middle of grad school application (Australia), and been told that visa applications requested by Russians have been put on hold by several countries, Ukrainians are being given the easy paths. It seems like Hollywood's cancel-culture is being applied towards the country. Universities are cutting ties with schools in Russia, same goes for museums, businesses, and of course, financial institutions. The public pressure to cut ties is massive, but who is the public?
It seems like the world is trying to get people to go out to the street. And people are going out. At the same time, the sanctions imply that even the people who are against the war and Putin (vast majority of people, almost everyone who has access to more than the government news, in my current view) will not be welcome or get any help for doing so. People who are willing to move their money outside the country, leave, and pay their way through it, are unable to do so due to private companies pulling out. At this point, people who have skills, some resources and do not support the regime are turning to Asia, because Asia is not closing its doors, financially and physically. The global-minded professionals, programmers, researchers and entrepreneurs are being left no choice but to either quietly stay, risk everything they have and be arrested at a protest or for calling the "Special Military Operation" a war, or (very generally, of course) go to China.
Two Russians I know of who are affiliated with Effective Altruism are Alexey Turchin and Anatoly Karlin. You may want to try to contact them to see if you can convince them to emigrate. Alexey Turchin's email is available on his website and can be messaged on Reddit, and Anatoly Karlin can be contacted via email, Reddit, Twitter, Discord, and Substack.
Anatoly Karlin is a pro-war Russian nationalist - it makes no sense to encourage him to leave.
I'm mostly doing it to vent. I'm Russian. As Slavic as it gets. No roots elsewhere. And so I cannot leave! Nor could I before, when flights out weren't jam-packed yet. Even during the witch hunts of 2018, when I was eager to flee to any safer place, I couldn't. Not because Russia wouldn't let me out. Back then, it easily would. Even transportation was easily available, not to mention relay routes. More like, it was because other countries, ones that were safer than Russia dearest, just wouldn't let me in. I was terrified, I was living in everyday fear. But I wasnt leaving. I was effectively forced to not leave and to play the Russian roulette. Because Russia has been an outcast in terms of visas for many years.
Ukrainian women could go working in Europe, they did so in significant numbers, and us, we simply couldn't, unless exceptionally talented or something like that. And now I did think of Asia myself. I even happen to know some Chinese. But apart from Asia being excruciatingly hot for a temperature-sensitive Northerner, it just is way too dangerous for a Caucasian woman on her own. I would stick out too much. And it's scary to even think what my price at their black market would be. They even abduct their own local women to be sold into sex slavery and so on. And I would be a walking, talking profitable rare commodity.
Previously, I only heard of Russian males prepping to quit it all in a permanent way, if you get what I mean. Because they don't want to be conscripted and forced to go to war. But now, I also am contemplating this. Even though just a short while ago, I was feeling like I should try to be a survivor.
Are you talking about being unsafe in China? I've had several white female friends work alone in China, they've all been fine. I certainly think moving to China would be a better option than despair - you have your whole life ahead of you!
Which actions can which stakeholders take to act on this?
In USA, Congress could pass a law like this. What if all American rationalists/EAs write to their Congressmen or meet them in person and ask to give asylum to all Russians and Ukrainians with a path to green card? (I see no reason why give asylum to Russians but not Ukrainians, and the idea might be more popular this way). I don't know much about American politics, is there any reason not to try this?
US is a big country and doing anything is hard and may take a long time. It may be easier to sway small countries. It you are trying to escape a small country is as good as a big one.
Hm, maybe if we start lobbying for open borders, immigration haters mobilize and start pushing for closed borders and it all ends up with visas for Russians being banned. Is that kind of thing likely?
The ruble is down about 30% since one month ago (and did not dive by half). The MOEX index did drop by nearly half, but was down about 35% when Russian authorities closed trading. Still, while the Russian exchange has remained closed, an investment trust traded on the LSE called "JP Morgan Russian Securities" was down ~85% a couple days ago! Also noteworthy: the ruble has been way down ever since 2014, due to a large drop in the price of crude oil, Russia's main export, plus sanctions after Russia invaded of Crimea. In total, the ruble is down ~68% on the USD since June 2014, and down 79% from its high in mid-2008.