Argentina investigates alleged mafia network after surge in tourism for Russian pregnant women

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The arrival of hundreds of pregnant women from Russia in recent months has led the Argentine Justice to open an investigation into the case, announced the body responsible for migration in the country.

The movement raised the suspicion that mafia organizations are profiting from the situation by offering, in exchange for a significant amount of money, a package of “birth tourism” that would have the Argentine passport as the main objective.

“With a lot of work, we Argentines have one of the safest passports in the world, which allows you to enter 173 countries without a visa,” said Florencia Carignano, head of the National Directorate of Migrations, on Twitter. “This is a privilege we have to take care of and a responsibility we owe to these nations.”

According to Carignano, after observing the significant increase in Russian citizens in recent months, the country launched an investigation and interviewed 350 women, with pregnancies in advanced stages.

The director claims that the movement is marked, contrary to what is expected, by people who do not wish to remain in Argentina. In the same publication, she shared an image of the RuArgentina website, which would be responsible for the travel packages.

The Russian site defines itself as a “network of portals” that has news sites about Argentina in Russian, videos of the founder, Kiril Makoveev, tour packages and births in Argentina.

The page on packages related to childbirth lists, among the advantages of having children in the South American country, high-quality medicines; visa-free entry into the country; Argentine citizenship for the son; “immediately permanent” residence and “the right to obtain Argentine citizenship in a simplified way” for parents, which would guarantee access to “170 countries without a visa”.

According to the Argentine government website, family members of native or naturalized persons can apply for temporary or permanent residence for two years, and there are no prerequisites other than proven kinship and other common documents, such as a passport and proof of residence.

The RuArgentina website also lists service packages paid in Tether, a “stablecoin” (cryptocurrency backed by traditional assets such as the dollar), ranging from 100 USDT (about R$ 518) for telephone consultations, up to 15 thousand USDT for “first class”, with unlimited consultations, air transport assistance, Spanish course and assistance with housing and documentation.

The Russian website also lists supposed partner hospitals, which would give a 50% discount on the value of the procedures. According to authorities, Russian pregnant women arrive in Argentina with the complete package, which includes temporary rental contracts, obtain passports for their children, and leave the country.

“We are happy that they come to make their life in Argentina, but the problem is that they arrive, have the children, register them as Argentines, leave and don’t come back. They are using our passport,” Carignano told a local television network.

Local authorities estimate that more than 10,000 Russian pregnant women have traveled to Argentina since the Ukrainian War began in February 2022, and 70% of them would have stayed in the country for just a few months, according to the newspaper El País.

In a single flight last week, 33 Russians were identified, Carignano told a television program on Friday (10). “The amount is really big per day. On an Ethiopian flight [Airlines, companhia aérea da Etiópia]33 Russians entered with pregnancies between 32 and 33 weeks,” he said.

Despite the numbers and the Argentine investigation, the phenomenon is not unique to the country. The European conflict also spurred the arrival of Russian and Ukrainian women to Brazil in search of citizenship for their children.

In the case of Russia, sanctioned and isolated by the West after the invasion of its neighbor, childbirth in countries like Argentina and Brazil gives the newborn the nationality of the South American nation in which he was born, which guarantees access to dozens of countries that make it difficult the entry of Russians.

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