Pregnant woman
According to the national migration office, all of the most recent entrants were in their final stages of pregnancy. (Representation image). Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

More than 5,000 pregnant Russian women have entered Argentina in the past few months, including 33 on one aircraft on Thursday, according to officials.

According to the national migration office, all of the most recent entrants were in their final stages of pregnancy.

It's thought that the women want to ensure that their children are born in Argentina so they can become citizens of that country. Local media thinks that the war in Ukraine is to blame for the current rise in visitors.

According to Florencia Carignano, the head of the migration agency, three of the 33 women who arrived in the Argentine capital on one flight on Thursday were detained due to "issues with their documentation," joining three other women who arrived the day before. She added the Russian women had initially stated they were tourists traveling to Argentina.

"In these cases, it was detected that they did not come here to engage in tourism activities. They acknowledged it themselves."

"The problem is that they come to Argentina, sign up their children as Argentinean and leave. Our passport is very secure across the world. It allows [passport-holders] to enter 171 countries visa-free," Ms Carignano added.

She claimed that since having Argentine citizenship provided greater freedom than having a Russian passport, Russian mothers sought it for their children, reports BBC.

Some 10,500 pregnant Russians have arrived in the South American country in the past year, Carignano said.

According to the official, roughly 7,000 of the women gave birth and then went back to their home countries, allowing Argentine lawyers to petition for the baby's citizenship before moving on to the parents, reports The Guardian.

Parental citizenship is also expedited if they have an Argentine child. Russian citizens currently only have access to 87 countries without a visa.

"I found out I was pregnant shortly after the war in Ukraine started," Cherepovitskaya recalled, reports The Guardian. "As we saw that borders started to quickly close around us, we knew we had to find a place that we could easily travel to. An Argentinian passport will open up many doors for my child."

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in Feb. of last year, it has been increasingly challenging for Russians to visit several Western nations. The visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Russia was suspended in Sep. of last year, necessitating more documentation, longer processing times, and stricter conditions for visa issuance.

Additionally, a number of nations, including all of the EU member states that border Russia, have suspended Russian tourist visas.

The three women who were arrested on Thursday claim that they are being "falsely imprisoned" since they are being held on the grounds that they are "false tourists," according to their attorney. According to Christian Rubilar, this phrase "does not exist in our legislation."

"These women who didn't commit a crime, who didn't break any migratory law, are being illegally deprived of their freedom," he said. The women have since been released.

La Nacion ascribed the sharp increase in Russian immigration to the conflict in Ukraine, saying that "besides fleeing war and their country's health service, [Russian women] are attracted by their [right of] visa-free entry to Argentina, as well as by the high-quality medicine and variety of hospitals." Russian citizens appear to be engaging in lucrative and well-established "birth tourism" to Argentina.

Several packages are available on a website in Russian for expectant mothers who want to give birth in Argentina. According to the BBC, the website promotes services including custom birth plans, airport pickups, Spanish lessons, and savings on hotel stays at "the best hospitals in the Argentinian capital."

According to the company's website, its founder has been promoting birth tourism and providing migration support since 2015. The business also claims to be "100% Argentinian."

The packages vary from "first class," which starts at $15,000 (£12,433), to "economic class," which starts at $5,000 (£4,144).

La Nacion reported on Saturday that Argentine police had been conducting raids as part of an inquiry into a "million-dollar business and illicit network" that was allegedly providing false documents to pregnant Russian women and their partners in a timely manner so they could settle in Argentina.
According to the police, the gang sought up to $35,000 (£29,011) for the service.

Although no one was detained, police reportedly seized laptops, tablets, immigration documents, and a significant sum of cash.

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