His Moscow apartment, Heywood Gaspard does not intend to let go anytime soon. The economic sanctions imposed by the members of the European Union and by the Americans certainly darken the short and medium term future in Russia. But it will take more to scare this employee in a large Russian logistics company.
” Anyway, Russia has been under sanctions since 2014. After each wave of sanctions, Russia emerges stronger. It is true that this time it will be a little more difficult, it will last a little longer, but I am sure and certain that they can manage to recover in an even better state than the one in which they are. the country economically, says Heywood Gaspard.
The Belgian says he has not received any specific instructions from the consular authorities of his country of origin. So far, a statement issued last Sunday simply asked Belgian nationals to avoid demonstrations organized in major cities.
In a final update, however, the Belgian Embassy in Russia advises against ” any travel within the entire Russian Federation and advising its nationals to let go temporarily » the country if they reside there and if their presence is not « necessary “.
” I have my whole life in Russia. I bought an apartment, set up a business, I have a family and I don’t see why I’m going back to Belgium today “Explains the manager of the French-speaking club in Moscow.
” Those who decide to leave, it’s more out of fear of what might happen. In particular, a war with NATO. It really is everyone’s number one fear here. Mainly foreigners, more than Russians”continues Heywood.
For others, it would also be the fear of reprisals against Europeans. ” Dimitri Medvedev spoke for a moment about seizing the property of foreigners, in reciprocity with what is happening in Europe and the seized Russian property », Details the businessman who has been living in Russia for ten years.
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For the latter, the return to Belgium is not worth it, for lack of official incentives and support.
” The problem is that we are not going to be helped at all for the return. Today, a Ukrainian refugee who arrives in the European Union will receive a house or a rental, while a returnee will have absolutely nothing he says.
I really feel a resurgence of patriotism among the majority of Russians since the last sanctions. Heywood Gaspard, Franco-Russian living in Moscow
The salary of the logistics employee has certainly fallen by “ 30% ”, following the devaluation of the ruble. He says he is aware that his lifestyle will be impacted. Without worrying about it.
Heywood has dual Belgian-Russian nationality. He says to himself “completely assimilated” and does not feel any change in the behavior of Russians towards Europeans, despite the series of sanctions impacting the economy and the wallets of the inhabitants.
“I have no problem with my Russian colleagues, on the contrary. On the other hand, I really feel a resurgence of patriotism among the majority of Russians since the last sanctions. »
Same story for Alexandre Stefanesco. The 44-year-old father has lived in Russia for 14 years and has resided in Moscow for several years. He has dual Franco-Russian nationality. He no more intends to leave than Heywood and is not afraid to stay in the country as a Frenchman.
“Traditionally, France has a good image and the French are well seen and appreciated. But the resentment of the Russian people against the West at large, which for them includes America, Europe, etc. will actually be increasing. He has been anyway since 2008 and 2014,” explains the director of a recruitment firm specializing in supporting Western European and particularly French companies.
“There is a counter-effect of the sanctions which do not manage to be integrated by French and European policies. Sanctions are hurting French business. They do not affect the popularity of the political power in place.says the latter.
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Thursday morning, the Quai d’Orsay is aimed at expatriates in Russia. “It is strongly recommended to French nationals, whose presence and that of their family is not essential in Russia, to make arrangements to leave the country by the still existing links.“.
Communication is too vague for the co-host of the SME/SMI committee at the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Moscow.
“The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommends leaving, some companies offer it to their employees, but overall, knowing what an essential presence is is quite confusing for all French people in Russia. It’s not clear. Surveys that we were able to do on Telegram groups of French people from Russia, and the Chamber of Commerce, 65 to 70% of those questioned wishing to stay and are currently staying in the country”, explains Alexandre Stefanesco.
This father of two children is even optimistic for the future: “I know it’s hard to hear, but I think we already have to prepare for the post-war period. The sanctions will have an impact, but I imagine that behind it there will be a rebound. The next world is written from today. »
France is Russia’s largest foreign employer with nearly 160,000 employees.
Few major French companies have announced their intention to stop their activity in Russia, apart from “temporary” closures of luxury boutiques.
But the director of the recruitment firm in Moscow is already seeing the effect of the sanctions on his activity.
“What is happening today on the side of companies is a slowdown in projects and therefore in recruitment. Besides, everyone is wondering a little what will happen in the coming days. We are in fear. The MAE communicates in a confused way, which sows panic in the societies. But French companies are not leaving Russia. They put the activity on hold, explains Alexandre Stefanesco.
My company does not start from Russia. I have industrial projects. It always works. The companies I work with on cash.Stéphane, French expatriate in Russia employed at Eiffage Énergie Systèmes
For Stéphane, a French expatriate in Russia for 15 years in Samara, in the region, with his wife and children, there is no question of leaving either.
“My company does not start from Russia. I have industrial projects. It always works. The companies I work with have the cash,” explains the development employee of Eiffage Énergie Systèmes.
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He still feels good in Russia, despite the political context tense by the war in Ukraine and the sanctions that will follow.
“I have never felt any animosity in Russia for 15 years. When you say you’re French, you’re being told about literature, intellectual exchanges. The day before yesterday, we had a discussion in a bar with young Russians and older ones. If it had gone badly, they wouldn’t have paid me beers again, ” adds Stephane.
In Russia, 4,767 French people are said to be expatriates, according to 2021 figures from the consular register of France in Russia.