The State Duma Facilitated the Issuance of Russian Citizenship to Ukrainians – What Will Be the Scheme Now?

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


On October 25th the State Duma at the first reading approved a draft law that makes amendments to the law “On Citizenship of the Russian Federation”.

“Thus it won’t be necessary to adopt separate laws, and in many respects the problem of Ukrainian refugees and IDPs concerning acquiring Russian passports will be solved,”  in was stated in the Russian parliament.

The adoption of this law became the second stage of reciprocal actions of Moscow, which accuses Kiev of murdering the head of DPR Aleksandr Zakharchenko and attacking the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. The start of the process of personal sanctions against the Ukrainian business and political elite became the first stage.

“Strana” studied this document. If it is adopted at the final reading and signed by the president, then the process of acquiring Russian citizenship for Ukrainians (in particular the inhabitants of the LDPR) will become simpler.

Putin’s decree will decide everything

The appeal of the inhabitants of Donbass to Vladimir Putin during the direct line in June of this year became the reason for the preparation of this document. They complained about the complexity of obtaining a Russian passport. The Russian of President promised to them that the corresponding draft law will be developed and the matter will be resolved.

The source of “Strana” in Federal Migration Service, which is included in the structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, back then stated their forecast: “This law de facto will be for the inhabitants of Donbass, but legally speaking the task is allowing Ukrainian citizens from any region to use it. If these laws and the regulations connected to them are adopted, then in 3-5 years the entire part of Donbass that isn’t controlled by Ukraine will have Russian passports,” noted our interlocutor.

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After studying draft law No. 527255-7 it is possible to draw the conclusion that the forecast of our source in the FMS may come true. The government draft law considerably simplifies for Ukrainians the procedure of acquiring the citizenship of the Russian Federation, and first of all – the inhabitants of Donbass.

The key amendment sounds like this: “The president of the Russian Federation has the right for humanitarian purposes to define categories of foreign citizens that have the right to file an application for the acquisition of nationality in a simplified order, as well as the procedure for submitting the appropriate applications”.

This bullet point can be interpreted as the preparation of the ground for the issuance of a decree by Putin, where he will list the categories of Ukrainians who can complete the simplified procedure. The criteria can be written in such a way that it will apply to the inhabitants of the DPR and LPR.

As, for example, was the case with his decree from February 17th, 2017, when the President of the Russian Federation recognised the passports of the “republics”.

The requirement of proving residence in Russia was abolished

Other amendments to the law “On Citizenship of the Russian Federation” are more concrete. Namely – competitors don’t have to provide lawful proof of existence in Russia (to be officially employed) or to confirm their knowledge of the Russian language (to pass an examination).

Moreover, it will be optional even to refuse one’s existing nationality in a notifying order for the categories of foreign citizens that will be defined by Putin. This means that people won’t have to send notarial refusal of Ukrainian citizenship to the consulate.

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There is also one more important amendment that will allow to issue in large quantities passports to Ukrainians who don’t live in Russia constantly.

Currently in the law “On Citizenship of the Russian Federation” it is specified that “an application concerning nationality can be submitted by persons living on the territory”. Living persons are those who have a residence permit or permission for temporary residence with a registration stamp.

In the law it is added: “applications can be submitted from persons who are temporarily staying on the territory of the Russian Federation”. Persons staying temporarily are those who received a migration card on the Russian border, but have no residence permit or permission for temporary residence.

“The specified citizens usually live at the residence of physical persons who, as a rule, don’t give consent to their registration at the place of residence in the provided accommodation. The result is a market of criminal services concerning fictitious registration, which is discovered by law enforcement bodies when such individuals submit applications for the acquisition of citizenship of the Russian Federation and shall entail the refusal to provide it,” it is specified in the explanatory note to the law.

“The simpler the procedure, the more interested people are”

If the draft law is adopted, it won’t allow to massively issue passports to the inhabitants of Donbass directly on the territory that isn’t controlled by Ukraine. However, should they have the desire, Donetsk and Lugansk citizens will be able to go to, say, Taganrog and take part in simplified programs. The main things that currently make this impossible – obligatory employment and registration in the Russian Federation – will be abolished.

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In September of last year the previous simplified procedure came into force. It abolished the obligatory certificate from Ukraine proving that this person is no longer its citizen.

“This amendment helped many people to apply for obtaining citizenship of the Russian Federation. Respectively, the number of persons who are interested strongly increased. If today a Ukrainian living in Moscow will want to participate in a state program, then they will be able to register only from January 9th, 2019. It is highly likely that documents won’t be accepted at the first attempt. That’s why the person will be obliged to come 2.5 months later – at the end of March. And this isn’t yet nationality. It is simply the first step towards nationality. And the passport will be received in the most ideal case in 7 months. The real period of time – 1 year and more,” said to “Strana” a native of Donetsk who moved to Russia for permanent residence.

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