Since the start of the war in Ukraine thousands of people have fled Russia. More than 20,000 emigrated to Argentina, including hundreds of pregnant women. The ease of entry, obtaining documents and access to health and education attracted these foreigners, in a growing phenomenon that does not stop.
“We wanted to come to a place where we could stay for a long time without needing any complicated documents,” Veronica Shehukov tells the voice of america during an interview in his new home in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Villa Urquiza.
Verónica is one of the Russian women who arrived pregnant in Argentina. She traveled with her husband, Alexei, and another seven-year-old daughter. They had to take eight planes for more than a week to travel from the Russian city of Vladivostok to Buenos Aires. But despite the long road, they were determined to start a new life in this country.
The case of the Shehukov family is just one of the thousands that have arrived in Argentina every month since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to data from the National Migration Directorate, from January 2022 to February 2023, more than 23,000 Russian citizens entered the country. And if you compare January 2022 with 2023, the number of Russians who arrived quadrupled.
Why do you choose Argentina to emigrate from Russia?
“They come in search of freedom, in search of a country where there is no racial discrimination,” explains Christian Rubilar, a lawyer specializing in immigration.
“Every inhabitant has the right to the same, has the same rights, except for politicians, who only have citizens,” explains Rubilar. This means that everyone who steps on Argentine soil has the right to access free education and health. This facility, plus the possibility of accessing a worldwide valid identity document and passport, is what most seduces Russian families.
But behind the arrival of the Russians, some suspect that there may be links to mafias and criminal groups.
“Behind [de la llegada de los rusos] there are mafias and they are investigating precisely what other crimes that one presumes are behind this,” said Florencia Carignano, national director of Migration in Argentina.
The authorities identified organizations that from Argentina offer alleged services to facilitate the transfer of Russians to the country, as managers, the official said.
The managers promise a secure entry, when that really depends on the Argentine Migration agents, and a quick passport process, when this process can take up to four or five years, he pointed out.
The Argentine passport allows immigrants to move freely around the world, unlike the increasingly isolated Russian passport.
Children of Russian immigrants who are born in the South American country immediately receive Argentine citizenship.