Heroic Russian Émigré

After 1917, when the October revolution happened, Russia ceased being the part of the Western world order and started being actively opposed to it, and the Soviet Russians gradually became the stock villains of western fiction. However, the other kind of Russians, those who were not supportive of Bolsheviks and who immigrated into Western countries to avoid prosecution, tended to be portrayed sympathetically in contrast. Some of these characters would simply be trying to find their place in the Western world, while others would attempt to restore Russia to its pre-1917 position (in Cold War era fiction, they would frequently join forces with NATO). In earlier works, most of such characters belonged to nobility because nobility was the initial main target of the Soviets; later works also feature ordinary Russian citizens who escaped the Soviet state.

There were several reasons for this trope: first, many Westerners were genuinely sympathetic with the Russian emigres, since while people in the West were only told about the horrors of Bolshevism, these people experienced it themselves. Second, it was sometimes used for political correctness purposes, to make it clear that the author was opposing the Soviet ideology and not trying to offend the Russian nation. Finally, some Westerners also believed that these people could be useful in taking down the Soviet state and reintegrating Russia into the West.

In rare instances such as the case of An American Tail, said emigre fled the Tsar before the Russian Revolution. While these works are not likely to be sympathetic to the Bolsheviks, the west was still aware of how autocratic the Tsarist regime was.

See also Chummy Commies, when the Communists themselves are not the bad guys, and Russia Is Western, when the whole country rejoins the Western world. Contrast Renegade Russian where the goal is not to offend the Russian/Soviet regime by showing a random Russian is the bad guy.

Examples:

Comic Books
  • Piotr Nikolaievich Rasputin aka Colossus of the X-Men was introduced as part of the new team in Uncanny X-Men's 1975 relaunch. He was only a farmboy in rural Russia until Xavier recruited him. He became one of the most recognizable mutant heroes, and is generally one of the kindest and most honorable people on the team.

Literature
  • Erich Maria Remarque was fond of this trope: many of his novels feature noble Russian immigrants who are usually friends of the protagonist. Notable examples include Boris Morozov from Arch of Triumph, Count Orlov from Three Comrades, and Boris Volkov from Heaven Has No Favorites.
  • Agatha Christie also frequently depicted such characters. This includes Vera Rossakoff, Hercule Poirot's only acknowledged love interest, and Princess Natalia Dragomiroff from Murder on the Orient Express who is portrayed in a generally good light and was acquitted by Poirot in spite of taking part in the titular murder.
  • Madame Karitska, the heroine of The Clairvoyant Countess by Dorothy Gilman, is the daughter of Russian aristocrats who fled the revolution when she was a little girl.
  • Victoria has Czar Alexander, who returns from exile, reclaims the throne of the Romanoffs and restores the heroic Russian Empire out of the morass of post-Communism.

Western Animation
  • An American Tail: Fievel Mousekewitz and his family are the protagonist Jewish-Russian migrants who come to America to escape cat cossacks and find a better living.
  • In Anastasia, the titular protagonist who had to escape the execution of the Romanov family is portrayed very sympathetically. The main antagonist is Grigory Rasputin who used his dark magic to cause the October Revolution.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HeroicRussianEmigre