My search for missing family has taught me about how helpful the Russian government can be. I noticed a post on a genealogy message board that contacting a ФМС России regional office could help with finding relatives.
I sent all the information I knew on my great-grandfather’s nieces and nephew to a regional office of ФМС России. I received an answer in a few weeks. The office did not find any information on my grandmother’s cousins. Then that office sent my information to another agency. That office also did not find information. But at least I know that I need to stop searching for my distant cousins in the region where they were born.
ФМС России regional offices manage residency permits and identification documents for the residents. That means these offices know whether your long, lost relatives are still living in the area.
There is still hope to find relatives based on an address that is decades old. When my grandfather escaped Kiev in 1943, his parents were living in a house that was their residence for many years. My great-grandfather died in 1946, but my grandfather’s mother stayed in the same house until 1973. Then she moved into a daughter’s apartment and lived there until 1975. A granddaughter of my great-grandmother lives in the same apartment today. So an old address sometimes is not as useless as thought.
Websites for the regional offices of ФМС России can be easily found. Visit the ФМС headquarters website and click on the multi-colored image of Russia on the top right. When you find the correct region on the map, click on the word “подробнее” in the pop-up window and the website for the regional office will appear.
I sent my request by e-mail written in Russian. I included my postal address and my grandmother’s cousins’ birth dates, birthplaces, parents’ full names and last known address and explained how my family lost contact with our relatives. I expressed my gratitude for any help and made sure I did not use the word “genealogy” so my request would not be sent to regional archives.