‘Passport tours’: Russia starts granting citizenship to Donbas residents

Ілюстратыўны здымак – Міхаіл Цярэшчанка / ТАСС / Forum

34 persons from Donbas took a special bus to come to Russia and gain the country’s citizenship.

Russia’s Interior Ministry started to issue Russian passports to residents of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk republics, RBC reports with reference to two sources familiar with the situation. According to them, people obtain documents in two temporary checkpoints at the Russian-Ukrainian border.

About 12,000 Donbas residents are seeking to be admitted to Russian citizenship, Oleg Agarkov, Head of Main Directorate of Interior in Rostov region, told RBC.

Earlier, Vladimir Krasnoshcheko, Head of DPR Migration Service, reported that 34 residents of the ‘Donets’ were heading to the Russian-Ukrainian border to get another passport.

“Today’s trip is the first one; then we are going to drive citizens every day to the territory of the Russian Federation on the basis of the lists we get,” he said.

Expert explains why Russia is giving away passports in Donbas

In late April, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a decree easing citizenship rules for residents of the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk republics. They can apply for Russian citizenship in Russia’s Rostov Region; their applications will be considered within three months, the Russian Interior Ministry reported. The decision was made ‘in order to protect human rights and freedoms’.

On May 7, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin called on the EU and the G7 countries to introduce new sanctions against Russia in response to its decision to give Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens living in occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine also declared it would recognize passports issued by the Russian Federation to Ukrainian citizens in the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas as illegal and invalid.

In turn, Dmitry Peskov, Press Secretary of the President of Russia, promised that the simplified procedure for obtaining citizenship would remain in force regardless of the reaction of Kyiv.


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