Georgia was the most popular country for Russian entrepreneurs to start their businesses abroad in 2022, with the country recording almost 30,000 new companies registered by Russians since February 2022, Forbes Russia reported on Jan. 18.
Russia's launch of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine spurred an estimated 112,000 Russians to relocate to neighboring Georgia in 2022.
A poll conducted in April 2023 by the Caucasus media outlet Jam News found that 87% of Georgians believed Russia to be the country's primary political threat. Another 79% supported revoking the visa-free regime for Russians to visit Georgia.
Forbes Russia said that 16,000 companies were registered between February 2022 and February 2023. In comparison, 7,788 companies in Georgia were registered by Russian citizens in the previous 27 years.
The number remained high in 2023, with 13,000 new companies registered by Russians, according to Forbes Russia.
This number is driven by the large Russian population in Georgia, as well as the fact that registering a business in Georgia is relatively straightforward and entrepreneurs pay extremely low income tax, Forbes reported, citing the director of a Russian company that provides foreign residency advice.
Armenia also saw 7,328 companies registered by Russian citizens in 2022, but this fell to new 3,400 registrations in 2023.
Kazakhstan recorded a huge rise in company registrations by Russians. In 2022, 3,500 companies were registered by Russian citizens, but this rose to 6,100 in 2023.
Two European countries also emerged as popular destinations, namely Montenegro and Serbia.
Montenegro, which has a population of around 621,000, recorded 2,600 new companies registered by Russians in 2022, and 3,400 in 2023. Setting up a business in Montenegro allows foreigners to apply for a residency permit for themselves and their families.
Similar rules apply in Serbia, where 6,000 new companies were registered by Russians in 2022, falling to 3,000 in 2023.