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Russians in Estonia not very interested in resettling, ambassador admits

Russian Ambassador Alexander Petrov.
Russian Ambassador Alexander Petrov. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Residents of Estonia aren't particularly interested in resettling in Russia within the framework of the latter's state program for the voluntary resettlement of compatriots, Russian Ambassador to Estonia Alexander Petrov said.

"I'll be honest, interest in resettlement is low for several reasons," Petrov said at a press conference held at the Russian Embassy on Tuesday.

Since 2007, when Russia first launched the State Programme to Assist the Voluntary Resettlement of Compatriots Living Abroad to the Russian Federation, approximately 800 people from Estonia have applied. Last year, a total of 17 people expressed interest in relocating from Estonia to Russia.

Interest in Russian citizenship, meanwhile, is greater — this year alone, more than 500 residents of Estonia have received Russian citizenship, the ambassador noted.

A total of 661 people have applied for Estonian citizenship  this year, up 22 percent from last year's total of 543, the Ministry of the Interior announced in October. Of these, 367 applicants, or more than half, were stateless persons carrying alien's passports ("gray passports"), 218 were Russian citizens, and 29 Ukrainian citizens.

Education contacts growing closer

Education contacts between Estonia and Russia, meanwhile, are growing closer, Petrov said. As recently as a few years ago, the Russian Federation offered 65 Estonian high school graduates the opportunity to study at the higher education level in Russian schools, the quota has since grown to 95.

According to the ambassador, there is great interest against this program in Estonia, which sees 5-6 applications per spot submitted.

"We can choose from pretty much the most exemplary graduates exclusively," he highlighted. "This is a very good indicator, as it demonstrates bilateral interest in one another."

According to Pertrov, in response to a request by Estonia, speech therapists and school therapists working in Estonia have als been offered continuing training in Russia.

He did, however, criticize plans being discussed in Estonia to switch the language of instruction throughout the entire country's education system to Estonian.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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