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Armenian Labor Migrants Reassess Work in Collapsing Russian Economy – The Moscow Times

Despairing of the economic options in her home country, Marine Khachatryan found work at a flower shop in Moscow’s outskirts in 2020, while her husband got work in construction.<…….

Despairing of the economic options in her home country, Marine Khachatryan found work at a flower shop in Moscow’s outskirts in 2020, while her husband got work in construction.

But then came the invasion of Ukraine, which has resulted in punishing Western sanctions and a crisis in Russia’s economy.

“We came here to make money and up until the war, we were fine. Now, nobody wants to buy flowers and the owner [of the shop] keeps losing money,” said Khachatryan. “I thought about trying to get another job, but Russia is getting more expensive.” So instead she has decided to move back to Armenia. “It’s a nightmare. I can go back to working in beauty salons, but I don’t know what my husband will do.”

Every year, tens of thousands of Armenians — especially men from smaller towns and villages — travel to Russia for seasonal labor, particularly in construction.

Estimates of exact numbers vary widely. Armenia itself reports that about 80,000 go to Russia for seasonal work every year. But Russian data puts the figure at 300,000, which would be more than 10% of Armenia’s population. 

Unknown numbers of other recent migrants from Armenia live in Russia more permanently, some even gaining Russian citizenship, but still send money back to family in Armenia, a critical part of the country’s economy.

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In 2021, remittances from Russia amounted to $865 million, according to Armenia’s central bank. That was equivalent to nearly 5% of the country’s GDP. 

That figure is now set to drop dramatically. “It could be up to a 40% decrease,” Finance Minister Tigran Khachatryan told the Armenian state news agency on March 28. 

Armenian labor migrants say that many jobs in Russia are disappearing, and in the ones that remain, the salaries – once converted to Armenian drams – are unpredictable. In the early days of Russia’s invasion and the sanctions that were swiftly imposed in retaliation, the ruble lost half its value, though it has since recovered.

“Salaries have shrunk, and it’s possible that employers are not going to be able to pay at all,” said Tatevik Bezhanyan, an expert on migration at the charity group Armenian Caritas. “For now they can still pay, but if the situation doesn’t get better there definitely are going to be issues,” she told Eurasianet.

Remittances “are likely to decline with weaker economic activity in Russia, the depreciating ruble, and restrictions …….

Source: https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2022/05/01/armenian-labor-migrants-reassess-work-in-collapsing-russian-economy-a77545

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