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Last December, almost half of the hundred births attended were by citizens from the European giant. "In January there were another 27 deliveries and so far in February there have already been 8," the director of the hospital, Ignacio Previgliano, revealed to the press, noting the continuity of the phenomenon.
For a year now, this scenario has been repeated in different public and private health centers in the capital. According to the National Directorate of Migrations, more than 10,500 pregnant Russian women arrived in Argentina during 2022, mostly going through the 32nd or 33rd week of pregnancy.
Last Friday, six pregnant Russians were detained at the Ezeiza airport because they could not justify their status as tourists to enter. They had no accommodation address, nor a return ticket. The exposure of the case uncovered a pot of shackles that involves various agencies that profit from needs and illusions.
"The objective is to obtain the Argentine passport," summarizes Silvana Jarmoluk, president of the Coordinating Council of Organizations of Russian Compatriots in Argentina, to HIF7.
Upon being born in Argentine territory, the children automatically obtain nationality and, later, the passport, which enables them to enter 171 countries without a visa and obtain a 10-year visa for the US.
Instead, the Russian document only allows them to enter 80 countries, and with Western restrictions imposed by the war against Ukraine, the matter has become more serious for Russian citizens.
Some travelers come with their partner, others arrive alone. They previously hire agencies that offer them support in the stages of the process, including translators. “People are being used by agencies that work illegally and make money at the expense of others,” Jarmoluk warns.
These agencies also offer Argentine citizenship to parents. On average, Russian citizens spend 2-3 months in the country. According to Migration, of the pregnant women who have arrived since the war began, more than 7,500 are no longer in Argentina. Once the minor's documents are issued, the parents leave and the process to obtain their citizenship is continued by the agency.
“Obtaining Argentine citizenship requires a desire to reside in the country, a life plan here. In principle, two years of continuous residence are required. That time legally decreases in cases in which people have an Argentine spouse or child,” lawyer Paula Carello, president of the Institute of Immigration and Refugee Law of the Rosario Bar Association, explains to this newspaper.
a confusing plot
Although investigations of the organizations involved are ongoing, the specialist says that talking about human trafficking would not be accurate. “There was no mention or observation of a situation of exploitation of people who come to give birth to the country, but rather there is talk of a service they hire. Instead of human trafficking, it would be more feasible to target migrant smuggling or other crimes linked to defrauding the State, ”she points out.
Carello considers it pertinent to address the cases individually and not as a group, since the profiles of the Russian citizens who arrived in the country differ. “There are also those who have chosen our country to reside, invest, study. It is important to avoid any discriminatory or xenophobic bias, ”he points out.
As a member of the Russian community living in Argentina, Jarmoluk believes that a biased disclosure of these cases could feed Russophobia: “The mere fact of being Russian today has limited access to the Western world. Banking operations, Internet access, among other restrictions, are blocked. These families found a way to escape the system. It happens that they are doing it en masse and that could go against Argentine laws”.
flows that do not stop
This week, in the exclusive neighborhood of Puerto Madero, the home of Elena Kuklina, a Russian citizen who owns one of the agencies investigated for bringing pregnant women, was raided. In her possession were found 70 thousand dollars and 3 thousand euros.
RuArgentina, another of the agencies involved in these operations, has reservations made until April. "In the WhatsApp and Telegram groups, the people who want to come are worried because now they don't know what is going to happen," says Jarmoluk.
15 thousand dollars can cost the 'package' to give birth in Buenos Aires, but according to the police some networks charge double.
16 Russian pregnant women have been arriving by flight in recent weeks. Only in the last 3 months, 5,800 pregnant women arrived.
The representative of the Russian community in Argentina finds it difficult for them to modify their tickets to another country. “In addition, here it is easy to enter the public health system. And there is the economic part, that for much less money here you can rent an apartment”, explains Jarmoluk.
For Florencia Carignano, National Director of Migrations, these practices could affect the level of security of Argentine passports. "Let's start looking at who we give the passports to, because the losers are going to be the Argentines when things happen, like the Russian spies they found in Slovenia and had Argentine nationality," said the official, alluding to a case that arose in January.
By accepting the habeas corpus for humanitarian reasons of the six Russian citizens delayed last week, currently the entry of pregnant women is not prevented at the Migration posts at the airport. From the organization they request that the justice system investigate thoroughly, to take actions that prevent the operation of mafias without altering the image of a country with open doors to immigration.