Dr. Tatiana Golova and PD Dr. Tsypylma Darieva

Political Migration from Russia and Azerbaijan

Dr. Tatiana Golova and PD Dr. Tsypylma Darieva

Political Migration from Russia and Azerbaijan

Staircase at the Vnukovo International Airport, Moscow IMAGO_ITAR-TASS

Project description

This pilot project explores the main characteristics of recent emigration from Russia and Azerbaijan. Authoritarian shifts in the Russian and Azerbaijani regimes have prompted several waves of emigration from the countries since 2012. While most of the migrants leave in response to the changing political and societal climate, only some of them have been politically active prior to leaving the homeland and interpret their own migration mainly in this context. We focus on Germany and Georgia as host countries as they have both become important destinations for politically active and socially engaged Russian and Azerbaijani citizens, while operating with two different migration regimes.

The goal of the multi-sited ZOiS pilot project (March 2022–February 2023) is to understand the process of relocation as an individual and collective experience and to analyse the transnational politics and everyday activism of migrants in relation to the theoretical framework of political remittances., i.e. transfer of political ideas and practices by migrants. We intend to identify similarities and differences across countries in terms of trajectories of movement, forms of transnational engagement and the motivations behind them, and migrants’ resources and capacities to deal with multiple challenges.

The latest, post-24 February wave of migrants from Russia deserves special attention as it differs from preceding cohorts in terms of its mass character, how people leave, which countries they go to, and the rise in push factors such as repression. For the Russian case, therefore, we ask what changed for political or social activists and other critical actors (journalists, academics, human rights defenders, etc.) and for ‘non-political’ migrants in relation to migration pressure, opportunities, and self-organisation. In this context, the study will also investigate public discourses in and the migration policies of the host countries.

Key questions

  • What makes migration and migrant activities ‘political’?
  • How do people construct their migration biographies?
  • How and why do migrants organise themselves in a new place?
  • How do receiving countries and their migration regimes react to emigrants from Russia and Azerbaijan?
  • What continuities and discontinuities characterise transnational political and civic engagement?
  • What emotions frame and drive emigration?


  • Semi-structured interviews with migrants
  • Expert interviews
  • Participant observation in selected places
  • Social media analysis

Project coordination