Russian mothers seeking new passports swarm Argentina
Russian mothers seeking new passports swarm Argentina

Buenos Aires: Alla Prigolovkina and Andrei Ushakov made the decision to leave their Sochi, Russia, home shortly after Vladimir Putin gave the order to invade Ukraine.

Ushakov was detained for holding up a "Peace" sign, and Prigolovkina, a ski instructor who was expecting, was worried that he would soon be drafted and possibly killed, leaving their child fatherless. Initially, they intended to remain in Europe, but anti-Russian sentiment dissuaded them.

In the house her family is renting in Argentina's western Mendoza province, Prigolovkina, 34, told The Associated Press, "We chose Argentina because it has everything we needed: Fantastic nature, a large country, beautiful mountains. We thought it would be perfect for us.

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The last year has seen dozens of pregnant Russians board flights, according to Argentine immigration authorities. Local authorities believe that many of the other recent Russian visitors are solely focused on obtaining an Argentine passport, in contrast to Prigolovkina, who claimed that her family intends to establish a life here at the foot of the Andes mountains.

Having an Argentine child expedites the process for the parents to obtain residency permits and, after a few years, their own passports. All children born in Argentina automatically receive citizenship.

Importantly, the navy blue booklets permit entry to 171 nations without a visa, providing Russians with a backup plan that they hope will be useful in the ever-uncertain future. An Argentine passport could help Russians who have had trouble opening bank accounts abroad as a result of sanctions.

Official statistics show that 22,200 Russians entered Argentina in the previous year, including 10,777 women, many of whom were very far along in their pregnancies. 4,523 Russians entered Argentina in January, more than four times the 1,037 who did so in the corresponding month last year.

Officials in Argentina came to the conclusion following an investigation that Russian women, typically from wealthy backgrounds, were coming to the country as tourists with the intention of having children, getting their documentation, and then leaving. 13.134 Russians, including 6,400 women, who entered the country in the previous year have already left.

During a meeting with foreign media, Florencia Carignano, the national director for migration, stated, "We detected that they don't come to do tourism, they come to have children."

Despite having a generally lax immigration policy, Argentina was alarmed when two alleged Russian spies were recently apprehended in Slovenia while travelling on Argentine passports. As a result, immigration controls were tightened in the South American nation.

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When asked about his concern that the Argentine "passport will cease to have the trust it enjoys in all countries," Carignano said, "We cancelled residencies of Russians who spent more time outside than inside.

The justice system has been urged by immigration authorities to look into organisations that are allegedly helping Russian women who want to give birth in Argentina.

Unknown numbers of women have left Russia in the past year to give birth, but the problem is significant enough that lawmakers in Moscow this month asked whether those who choose to give birth abroad should lose their right to the so-called maternity fund, which provides all Russian mothers with a financial benefit of nearly $8,000 for the first child and roughly $10,500 for the second.

According to Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, there are no plans to prevent Russian mothers who give birth abroad from receiving benefits from the maternity fund.

Additionally, the phenomenon is not entirely new. Before the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, a large number of Russian women travelled to the US as "birth tourists," paying brokers thousands of dollars to arrange their travel documents, lodging, and hospital stays, frequently in Florida.

Russians in Argentina insist that their decision to leave their homes goes beyond getting a new passport because setting out on a long journey during an advanced pregnancy can be particularly risky. Despite what the government says, some people appear eager to relocate to Argentina.

Since moving to Argentina in July, Prigolovkina and Ushakov have quickly adapted to the country's traditions despite the language barrier and the unfamiliar, oppressive summer heat. Prigolovkina claimed that they particularly cherished spending time with their dogs in parks. The family may not have been soccer fans in Russia, but late last year, when their adopted nation won the World Cup, they enthusiastically applauded.

She does, however, acknowledge that getting Lev Andrés, their infant son, a passport was a driving force behind the relocation: "We wanted our baby to have the chance to not just be Russian and have a single passport."

According to some experts, a nation where immigrants once made up as much as 30% of the population should be especially sympathetic to the plight of Russians attempting to start a new life. The influx of millions of European immigrants, many of whom came from Italy and Spain, into the South American nation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had a profound impact.

A nation like ours should have more compassion for the humanitarian aspect" of these recent immigrants, according to Natalia Debandi, a social scientist and migrations specialist who works as a researcher at the publicly funded CONICET institute. They are people; they are not terrorists.

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According to a study conducted by immigration officers based on interviews with 350 recently arrived Russians, the majority are married, financially secure professionals who either live off savings or work remotely in the financial and digital design industries.
Russian psychologist Ekaterina Gordienko, 30, spoke highly of her time in Argentina days before giving birth to a boy named Leo. She said, "The health care system is very good, and people are very kind. The only issue I have is Spanish. If the medical professional can't speak English,

Gordienko and her 38-year-old husband Maxim Levoshin arrived in Buenos Aires, the country's capital, in December. Levoshin stated, "The first thing we want is for Leo to live in a safe nation, without a war in his future.

In Mendoza, Prigolovkina is looking forward to her family's new life in Argentina and is confident they will be able to reciprocate the kindness shown to them by the nation.

"In order to live in peace, we have left everything behind. I hope Argentines recognise the value of Russians in various spheres of life, including business, the economy, and science, she said. They have the potential to improve Argentina.

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