Emigration. Your stories to Chronicles of Turkmenistan

The Turkish Statistical Institute has published the migration data for 2018. According to the survey, a total of 577.457 foreigners entered Turkey for permanent or temporary residence with Turkmenistan nationals making up 7,5% or 43.309. Of the number of residents who entered the Turkish Republic, Turkmenistan ranks fourth alongside Iran, Iraq and Syria bordering Turkey.

A large number of Afghan nationals are also moving to Turkey.

Apart from Turkey, a large number of Turkmenistan's nationals are departing to Russia.

According to the official data published by the Russian State Statistics Office, some 82,675 Turkmenistan's nationals entered Russia in 2018 using various types of visas. It should be mentioned that this is 17 thousand more than in 2017, when 65.749 people arrived in Russia. To compare, some 40,238 Turkmenistan's nationals entered Russia in the precrisis year 2013. Judging by the 2019 data, Russia will continue to see a sharp growth in the number of immigrants. In the first quarter alone some 19.379 (!) Turkmenistan's nationals entered Russia, whereas in 2018 only 13,892 entered Russia during the same period.

Two weeks ago Chronicles of Turkmenistan asked readers to share their stories of emigration. There were very few willing to share their experience, probably out of fear, owing to a lack of trust in the editorial board, a lack of interest in the topic or a poor marketing campaign carried out by Chronicles of Turkmenistan, which did not actively promote the proposal.

Anyhow, we would like to thank those who have responded to our request. All messages have been published unedited.

As far as I recall, my family and I started thinking about leaving Turkmenistan in early 2010. Everyone can remember those times. The newlyelected had recently come into office. In the country where almost everything had been banned, some changes occurred. For instance, we did not have to stand in milelong queues to buy flour and bread; there were some positive reforms in education (let alone the quality of education); students did a course of study abroad (as an alternative to getting admitted to Turkmenistan's universities for a huge bribe); commerce and small businesses were given more freedom, Internet access was provided. People had some hope. Ordinary people, sick and tired of stupid decisions and clownish statements by the first President, started looking at the new young President, not yet Arkadag, with hope. However, happiness cannot last forever and good things will be followed by bad things. The authorities began to tighten the screws. It was then when we seriously considered leaving Turkmenistan.

We had no problem choosing the country. At that stage Turkmen residents had two major destinations Russia and Turkey. Needless to say, there is also Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Europe and the US but fewer people move there, especially to Europe and the USA. We decided to move to Russia. Moreover, we speak Russian and are quite familiar with the Russian culture and mindset. Our nations have a lot in common from a historical perspective. It was quite a tough decision to make. We spent many nights in the kitchen, reflected a lot, sought advice from our relatives. It was very hard to leave everything behind and start from scratch in a new place. Russia is no longer the place it used to be. We were well aware that nobody was expecting us here with open arms and that we would have to look for our place in the sun. In the end, we made our choice.

The decision was made. What should we start with? A distant relative advised us to apply for a staterun program. I will not describe all the stages as it is irrelevant but I need to say that participating in the statesponsored program is the best and most efficient way of moving from Turkmenistan to Russia (I personally know a man who moved to Russia based on a relocation permit but for 5 years has been unable to obtain citizenship).

Our applications were approved and we headed to Russia.

There were quite a lot of problems. However, they were nothing in comparison with the problems we faced in our home country. In a nutshell, after the move, the Russian passport is issued to immigrants within 4 months. You are allowed to work in any city of the country. If you demonstrate good performance as a specialist, you will be treated respectfully at work. One can accomplish a lot but you have to work hard. It usually takes a year and half or two years to get settled.

Am I content with my emigration? I think I am. I do think we have made the right decision. Would I like to return to Turkmenistan? No, not to Turkmenistan but to the country where I was happy and where my family and my friends lived. I would like to see the street I grew up in, have a walk around my home town and talk to people who are dear to me. Under no circumstances would I like to return to the place where I was told Bolonok! (It is forbidden!) Therefore, everyone has to decide on his own what works well for him and what does not. I wish everyone good luck and all the best.

Hello! I left Turkmenistan in 2014 when there was still free foreign currency conversion. I sold a good apartment and bought a worse quality property in St Petersburg. My family left because things had gotten worse. One ban followed the other. We did not have any documentrelated constraints in Russia. Compared to Ashgabat's bureaucracy, it is like a fairy tale. We did face some minor issues, such as having the documents translated, but it is quite a speedy process. Would I consider returning to Turkmenistan? Well, I would go back only for holidays and to have a good laugh.

I left Turkmenistan in 2015 for Turkey where I got married. To be honest, I am not happy but it is a much better option for me. I think that I will get used to this over time. Back at home my family members are happy for me and think that I am settled and have a happy life. They want me to take my younger sister with me, and my family members from the etrap who come to visit my family are wondering if I can help them find a job here. They believe that there are quite a lot of wellpaid jobs. They are unfamiliar with the conditions and say that I am just reluctant to work.

We left in 2013 when the situation with citizenship was quite complicated. We sold our apartment at a good price and managed to buy property in the Moscow region. I was lucky to get a good job and I have no regrets. I wanted to visit my family and pay respects to my parents' graves, but I was informed by the Embassy of Turkmenistan that I might be denied exit if I have no newstyle international travel passport.

Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan