Migration to the Encouraging Indifference of Authorities


Migration to the Encouraging Indifference of Authorities

And even the second generation of migrants does not get adapted to the new environment. Only starting with the third generation, people consciously become part of the social life.

Hranush Kharatyan, ethnographer – Almost in any situation migration is a stress. And even the second generation of migrants does not get adapted to the new environment. Only starting with the third generation, people consciously become part of the social life.

It is a fact that our state policy does not address this issue in any way, even the religious and cultural policy fail to address it. These are not considered problems for our Ministry of Culture; they are not issues to discuss. Even when we are facing such a catastrophic emigration.

It is, of course, handy for the dissatisfied mass to leave; moreover, the emigrants are an active part of the society. The active segment of this boiling pot is constantly leaving; consequently, there are peaceful times, until a new wave arises. But if the authorities specifically aimed at reducing the population in the country, they would apply all the other means available. I do not see a determined policy for this, but I see encouraging indifference. The authorities do not even have enough courage to admit the real volumes of the emigration, the fact of it, and moreover its true reasons.

Samvel Manukyan, sociologist – Our Institute for Political and Sociological Consultancy (IPSC) has been conducting a survey – “Quality of Life in Armenia” – in Armenia for three years. In 2012 we also considered the issue of emigration, trying to study the factors that would make it possible to manage emigration. We have determined a political engagement index that shows that when there is a very low degree of political engagement, the inclination to emigration is very high. The more political engagement grows, the lower emigration involvement becomes.

Hranush Kharatyan, ethnographer – We have many rural settlements without men for 7 – 8 months, and the only man in the village is the head of the rural administration. They also say that in summer women can place the tub in the yard and bathe, since there is no man for them to be ashamed of. I used to live in a village, in a family of labor migration traditions, and three of the men in the family worked abroad. A child fell ill in the village and needed to be transported to the center of the region. There were many cars in the village with no driver. This is paradoxical, however, a reality, and these issues are not being addressed.

2- 2.5 million Armenians currently live in Russia. This is the largest Armenian community abroad.

Hranush Kharatyan, ethnographer  - Most of them continue to live there illegally. Russia is a country with as much lack of rule of law, as Armenia. Most issues are solved either by bribes, connections, and other influential means. But these means are not always functional, and people often find themselves in situations they are not ready to get out of.  Even no action is taken in order to ensure legal conditions for these people, because there is no protection against the illegal conditions. In these circumstances, people have both financial losses, and with criminal psychology and an illegal status and relations, they are ready to escape the situation. And what should one do in such circumstances, how much money can one have in their pockets?

No one has the prospect of Russia becoming a rule-of-law state, people realize that they are not leaving for a rule-of-law state, but a space where they would not be hindered to work and to sell the output of their work. People are not even disappointed at the deceit, they know they live in a lie, but even this does not disappoint them. That is to say deception is already acceptable, as long as the outcome is somehow satisfactory. This turns the country into a space of total scams.

I know families that have lived in Russia for 5 years but they cannot speak a word of Russian, and even the child raised at home does not have minimal knowledge of the language so that to mitigate the stress when they go to school. These people are a lost generation. We judge migrants by the example of those who are intellectual, have connections, but these are only very few. About 90 percent of migrants who settle in Russia have legal, social, cultural, psychological and economic problems. At a large scale, they do not enjoy many rights. Knowing about this, knowing about the nationalism growing in Russia, the hateful public attitude against immigrants, they have to agree to some self-restrictions. On the other hand, there are many unruly people whose actions become precedents, and a negative attitude is formed that is extended over regular and hard-working people. And this leads to the discontent of the local Armenian communities, which have built up a reputation for years.

Samvel Manukyan, sociologist – We know that about 150000 people annually leave Armenia as labor migrants, and most of them leave for Russia. And if we do not join the Customs Union, the border will be closed before those people, and they will have to obtain visas to enter Russia and overcome numerous obstacles to get a labor permit.  And these 150000 actually support 600000 people, if we take into account that an average family consists of 4 people in Armenia. If the opportunity to work and earn in Russia is not there, how will these people survive? There are no answers to this question. And if we are speaking about not separate social groups, but the right of the majority of the Armenian people, the Customs Union will be of primary importance for at least 600 000 people.

What to Do about Migration?

Hranush Kharatyan, ethnographer – The socio-economic factor is a very serious component, but the social factor is first of all related to the enforcement of the law. I am deeply convinced that as soon as the court starts to normally operate in Armenia, we will not need any more additional strategies: the citizens of Armenia will find solutions on their own. But there is also a deep conviction that the authorities will not change their strategy for a long while now – Armenia, with its population and natural resources will service the interests of only a group of people, given the present and future policy.

Samvel Manukyan, sociologist – When people are fully alienated from the political system, they consider that nothing is dependent on them, and the negative phenomena in the country are perceived more vividly. And when people start getting interested in politics, and they interact with power and civil society and get explained what is going on in Armenia, they are shown concrete examples of change and they are given hopes. This is exactly how gradual political engagement raising takes place, which gradually leads to the decrease in the emigration position. Unfortunately, the majority of our people have a feeling of estrangement. The authorities must bring about interest among the people, to inform that they are really dealing with the issues of the wider circles of the society.   

Hranush Kharatyan, ethnographer – The majority of the emigrants are venturesome, young, skilled and capable people, and it gives me pain to say that Armenia is becoming a country of social beneficiaries and pensioners. Unfortunately, these are all valid enough reasons, for the larger part of the society in our country to consider themselves humiliated for them to put an end to this situation either by a revolution or fleeing. And I think that the continuous pre-war pressure largely hinders revolutionary manifestations. There is always an anxiety and responsibility, and these lead to various forms of abstinence: hence we have what we have.

This material has been prepared within the framework of a project implemented by Region Research Center with the financial support of the Polish Embassy in Armenia. The views and opinions expressed in this material do not reflect the official policy or position of the Polish Government.


30 January, 2014
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