A Russian government program that pays Russian-speakers to migrate to Russia is upsetting many Armenians who believe it is contributing to a demographic problem in Armenia.
Officially, the program is meant to benefit those who term the Russian Federation their “homeland.” In reality, the program, which has operated in Armenia since 2009, defines the word “compatriot” in terms of the Soviet past; Russian-speaking citizens of countries throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States, with or without a past family history in Russia, are eligible to apply.
After signing a two-year contract, participants are assigned a job (possible options range from nurse to construction worker), a lump payment from $4,000 to $8,000 depending on resettlement location and occupation, and a place to live in one of 24 Russian regions. The program aims to repopulate Russian regions that have experienced demographic declines over recent decades. Only applicants with families are eligible for Compatriots.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.