The Russian authorities are launching a program to return Russian nationals studying in the UK, most of whom are children of Russian businessmen and officials, back to Russia.
The Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation, commonly known as Rossotrudnichestvo, is a federal agency subordinate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and responsible for humanitarian projects. The Agency came forward with an initiative to repatriate the children of wealthy citizens of the Russian Federation, who leave en masse to study in London, even during this period of sharp cooling in relations between Russia and the West.
The newspaper Kommersant reports that the project was named "Highly Likely Welcome Back, or It's Time to Go Home!". The students in Britain have been offered the opportunity to return to their homeland "for political reasons" and continue their studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).
The university, which is one of the few in Russia reporting to the Foreign Ministry rather than Ministry of Education, says that it is ready to organize emergency recruitment for several hundred new students.
Those who are currently studying abroad in undergraduate programs will have the opportunity to transfer, and those planning to enter master’s programs will be able to file documents to accelerate procedures for consideration, said MGIMO’s Dean of the School of Governance and Politics Henry Sardaryan.
Responding to a question regarding whether this initiative would infringe the rights of other students, Sardaryan assured that "everything will happen within the framework of Russian legislation."
"There are serious concerns that young Russians may suffer from provocations in countries that show an unfriendly attitude towards our country," said Oksana Buriak, moderator of Rossotrudnichestvo, who commented on the initiative. An official representative for the department, Olga Evko, confirmed that there is a "negative influence of Russophobic attitudes on the activities of compatriots" in a number of countries. Students studying in the UK did not express a desire to go home; several of them, on condition of anonymity, told Kommersant that they "do not see any pressure," and "people behave adequately."
According to the Ministry of Education and Science, approximately 60,000 Russian students study at foreign universities as of 2017.