Armenia's government has battled for years to lower emigration rates. According to a new study by the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration, the government's efforts have run up against a multimillion-dollar "emigration industry" that includes legitimate travel agencies and a netherworld of more dubious middlemen. This industry, which may get help from some embassies, has pilfered over $100 million from Armenians leaving their homeland since 1995. It's also fed a steady flow of would-be Armenian refugees that increasingly worries governments in Western Europe.
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Ken Stier is a freelance journalist, based temporarily in Yerevan, who specializes in Caucasus and Central Asian affairs.