Armenia is pressing to terminate a Russian government program that encourages legal labor migration to Russia. But the Russian Federal Migration Service shows no sign of abandoning the initiative.
In operation since 2006, the so-called Compatriots program is intended to assist up to 300,000 voluntary labor migrants per year from former Soviet republics in finding work in under-populated regions of Russia. The Russian government covers travel expenses for program participants, provides jobs and accommodation and guarantees the migrants’ right to Russian citizenship.
Precise data on the number of Armenians who have gone to Russia under the Compatriots program is not publicly available. Some estimates put the number at only a couple of thousand. But given the overall outflow of an estimated 1.1-million Armenians since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, the program nevertheless has been a target of criticism in Yerevan.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter in Yerevan and the editor of MediaLab.am.