The wave began with the invasion of Ukraine. The Mongols try to maintain a friendly neutrality towards Russia; they also send humanitarian aid to the Ukrainians. For many Russian citizens of Asian origin, Mongolia is a friendly and hospitable country.
Moscow () – The new wave of migrants from Russia, which began after the disastrous February 24, is also arriving in Mongolia. A country that Russians traditionally consider to be underdeveloped or, at best, exotic. The website Sibir.Realii tries to elucidate why Mongolia is an attractive place for people seeking to escape the warlike and oppressive climate imposed by the Kremlin.
According to the British organization The Economist Intelligence Unit, Mongolia ranked 62nd in the 2019 Democracy Assessment Index, while Russia shared 134th place with the Congo. During a recent visit to Ulaanbaatar, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, defined the country as “a symbol of peace on a troubled 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. In March this year, the Mongolian delegation to the UN abstained during the vote on the resolution (sponsored by the United States) condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, the Mongols are very generous in sending humanitarian aid to the Ukrainians. As the Mongolian political scientist Tuvshinzaya Gantulga wrote in The Diplomat“These measures are certainly not enough, but they are important.” It must be considered that “Russia almost completely controls Mongolia’s energy supplies and uses all kinds of pressure to force the Mongols to openly side with them.”
Aldar Erendženov hails from the Republic of Kalmykia, a Buddhist region of European Russia. “I escaped to Mongolia after our anti-war demonstrations,” says the activist from the “No Russians” association. Aldar left his clothing store in Elista; in 2019 he had already had to move to Moscow to avoid arrest, following the protests against the election of the mayor of the Kalmyk capital, Dmitry Trapeznikov, one of the leaders of the separatist republic of Lugansk, who was sent by Putin to the province to prevent him from stirring up more trouble in Ukraine.
The FSB services accompanied the appointment of Trapeznikov with a strong repression of Kalmyk citizens, dissatisfied with the election. In April this year Aldar fled to Ulaanbaatar. threatened with an accusation of “incitement to inter-ethnic hatred”, having reiterated on Instagram the non-Russian manifesto: “We are citizens of the Russian Federation, proud to call ourselves Oirats, Yacutians, Buryats, Tatars… we have never accepted forced Russification, Christianization 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 friendly and hospitable country. In the past they used to go there to visit, or to spend the holidays, go on excursions in the mountains and live for a few days in the yurt, the typical tent of these places. In addition, Mongolia is easily accessible, it is enough to go to Buryatia, the Russian Mongolian region, and take a bus, without special border controls. That is why it has become a popular destination, and not only for Russian Asians, the so-called “čurki“, a pejorative term in popular parlance. Many poor Russians also opt for this destination, since they cannot afford a flight via Armenia and Istanbul to reach the Spanish beaches or the villas Tuscan.
Mongolia welcomes the Russians with a great spirit of brotherhood, due to the natural kindness of its people. But also, because of the memory of the many historical events that link it to the Muscovite empire, which they dominated in their time and from which they were emancipated -for the purposes of the Chinese- in more recent times.
Most of the Russian emigrants are Buryats and are indistinguishable from the locals. Yet opponents of the Ukraine war, regardless of region, are viewed with equal warmth by locals. Like Siberian tourists, the Russians of Mongolia today look for medicines and products now prohibited in their homeland, and above all, a Eurasian smile, without ideologies or desire for conquest.