As many as 30,000 Armenian citizens have been banned this year from reentering Russian for allegedly violating Russian immigration rules, according to a senior Armenian government official.
Gagik Yeganian, the head of Armenia’s State Migration Service, said on Thursday that they have been blacklisted by Russian authorities after a recent toughening of residency requirements for foreigners working in Russia.
The Russian government eased this summer some of those rules for Armenian nationals because of Armenia’s impending accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). But in Yeganian’s words, it has so far declined to let the vast majority of blacklisted Armenians, many of them migrant workers, back into the country.
Yeganian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that he raised the issue with the head of Russia’s Federal Migration Service (FMS), Konstantin Romodanovsky, during talks in Yerevan earlier this week. Romodanovsky promised that the FMS will again review their cases, he said.
Data from the FMS shows that were around 500,000 Armenian citizens living in Russia as of November 2013. Hundreds of thousands of other Armenians are believed to have obtained Russian citizenship over the past two decades. Annual multimillion-dollar remittances from them help to support a considerable part of Armenia’s population.
Sofia Gabrielian lived in Russia for several years before travelling back to Armenia on what was supposed to be a short trip this summer. She still does not know why she was placed on the Russian immigration blacklist.
“I have a home there registered in my name but am not a Russian citizen,” said Gabrielian. “I tried to go there but was told that I can’t do that. Nobody will tell me why.”
Robert Aloyan, another Yerevan native, claimed that he was barred from visiting his relatives in Russia because of failing to inform Russian immigration authorities that his son holds a Russian passport. He said he plans to lodge another appeal with the FMS despite having already been turned down by the agency.
According to Yeganian, around 2,000 Armenians have filed such requests in the last four months. Only about 300 of them have been removed from the blacklist so far.