Could a massive loss of population be the ultimate price cash-strapped Armenia pays for closer ties with Russia? That is the question troubling many Armenians after Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 21 signed a law granting Russian citizenship to residents of former Soviet and Russian Imperial territories who can demonstrate that they speak Russian fluently and habitually.
Successful applicants must surrender their existing citizenship, but that will do little to deter thousands of job-hungry Armenians, local experts fear.
“This is a long-wished-for law for Armenians, and I think many of them will apply for the program, giving up their Armenian citizenship,” commented ethnographer Hranush Kharatian, a reform activist who formerly ran the government’s Department of National Minorities and Religious Affairs.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.