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Russian Pregnant Women Seek New Passports To Argentina

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(CTN NEWS) – BUENOS AIRES – Alla Prigolovkina and Andrei Ushakov made the decision to leave their Sochi, Russia, home shortly after Vladimir Putin gave the order to invade Ukraine.

Ushakov was jailed for holding up a “Peace” sign, and Prigolovkina, a ski instructor who was expecting, was worried that he would soon be recruited and possibly killed, leaving their child fatherless.

Initially, they intended to remain in Europe, but anti-Russian sentiment dissuaded them.

Within the house her family is renting in Argentina’s western Mendoza area, Prigolovkina, 34, told The Associated Press,

“We chose Argentina because it has everything we needed: Beautiful nature, a vast country, magnificent mountains.” We thought it would be perfect for us. They were not by themselves.”

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Russian nationals Alla Prigolovkina and her husband Andrei Ushakov, their Argentine-born son Lev Andres and their dogs Santa and Cometa, visit a park in Mendoza, Argentina, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023.(AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Scores Of Pregnant Russians Boarded Aircraft Last Year

The last year has seen scores of pregnant Russians board aircraft, according to Argentina immigration authorities.

But, while Prigolovkina said that her family intended to establish a life here at the foot of the Andes mountains, local authorities think that many of the other recent Russian tourists are only interested in obtaining an Argentine passport.

Having an Argentine child expedites the procedure for the parents to obtain residency cards and, after a few years, their own passports. All children born in Argentina automatically receive citizenship.

Importantly, the navy blue booklets permit admission to 171 nations without a visa, providing Russians with a backup plan that they hope will be useful in the ever-uncertain future.

An Argentine passport could help Russians who have had problems opening bank accounts abroad as a result of sanctions.

Official statistics show that 22,200 Russians entered Argentina in the previous year, including 10,777 women, many of them were quite far along in their pregnancies.

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Russian national Alla Prigolovkina breastfeeds her Argentine-born son, Lev Andres, at their home in Mendoza, Argentina, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Russians Entered Argentina In Previous Years

4,523 Russians entered Argentina in January, more than four times the 1,037 who did so in the corresponding month the previous year.

Officials in Argentina came to the conclusion following an investigation that Russian women, typically from wealthy families, were coming to the country as tourists with the intention of having children, getting their paperwork, and then leaving.

13.134 Russians, including 6,400 women, who entered the country in the previous year have already left.

During a meeting with foreign journalists, Florencia Carignano, the national director for migration, stated, “We identified that they don’t come to do tourist, they come to have children.”

Despite having a generally lax immigration policy, Argentina was alarmed when two alleged Russian agents were recently apprehended in Slovenia while traveling on Argentine passports.

As a result, immigration procedures were tightened in the South American nation.

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Parents-to-be Maxim Levoshin and Ekaterina Gordienko, pose for a picture in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Russian Women Participated In A Wave Of “birth tourists” In U.S

Carignano expressed concern that the Argentine “passport will cease to have the trust it has in all nations” and said, “We terminated residency of Russians who spent more time outdoors than inside.”

The court system has been urged by immigration authorities to look into organizations that are reportedly helping Russian women who want to give birth in Argentina.

Unknown numbers of women have left Russia to give birth in the past year, but the problem is significant enough that lawmakers in Moscow have asked whether those who choose to give birth abroad should lose their right to the so-called maternity fund that all Russian mothers receive.

Which amounts to a financial benefit of almost $8,000 for the first child and roughly $10,500 for the second.

According to Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, there are no plans to prevent Russian mothers who give birth overseas from receiving benefits from the maternity fund.

However, the occurrence is not entirely new. Russian women participated in a wave of “birth tourists” in the United States prior to the Russia-Ukraine war.

And many of them paid brokers tens of thousands of dollars to organize their travel documents, lodging, and hospital stays, frequently in Florida.

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Andrei Ushakov nuzzles his Argentine-born son Lev Andres, at their home in Mendoza, Argentina, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Russians Struggles To Establish A new Life

Russians in Argentina stress that their desire to leave their homes goes beyond getting a new passport because setting out on a long journey during an advanced pregnancy might be particularly risky.

Notwithstanding what the government says, some people are willing to relocate to Argentina.

Since moving to Argentina in July, Prigolovkina and Ushakov have rapidly adapted to the country’s traditions despite the language barrier and the strange, oppressive summer weather.

Prigolovkina claimed that they particularly cherished spending time with their dogs in parks. The family may not have been soccer fans in Russia, but late last year, when their adopted nation won the World Cup, they enthusiastically applauded.

She does, however, acknowledge that getting Lev Andrés, their infant boy, a passport was a driving force for the relocation: “We wanted our baby to have the possibility to not simply be Russian and have a single passport.”

According to some experts, a nation whose immigrants formerly made up as much as 30% of the populace should be especially sympathetic to the struggle of Russians attempting to establish a new life.

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Russian national Alla Prigolovkina lies on a bed with her Argentine-born son Lev Andres, at their home in Mendoza, Argentina, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

The entrance of millions of European immigrants, many of whom came from Italy and Spain, into the South American nation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had a profound impact.

According to social scientist and migrations expert Natalia Debandi, a researcher at the publicly financed CONICET institute, “given our history of the movement, a society like ours should empathize more with the humanitarian dimension” of these new immigrants.

These are people; they are not terrorists.

According to research conducted by immigration officers based on interviews with 350 recently arrived Russians, the majority are married, financially secure professionals who either live off savings or work remotely in the financial and digital design industries.

Russian psychologist Ekaterina Gordienko, 30, spoke highly of her time in Argentina days before giving birth to a child called Leo.

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Maxim Levoshin sits with his wife Ekaterina Gordienko as she breastfeeds their newborn baby named Leo, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023.(AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

She said, “The health care system is quite good, and people are very polite. The only issue I have is Spanish. I utilize (Google) Translate if the doctor can’t speak English.

Gordienko and her 38-year-old husband Maxim Levoshin came to Buenos Aires, the country’s capital, in December. Levoshin stated, “The first thing we want is for Leo to live in a safe nation, without a war in his future.

In Mendoza, Prigolovkina is looking forward to her family’s new life in Argentina and is confident they will be able to reciprocate the kindness shown to them by the nation.

“In order to live in peace, we have left everything behind. I hope Argentines see the value of Russians in various spheres of life, including business, the economy, and science, she remarked. They have the potential to improve Argentina.

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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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