On April 29, Vladimir Putin expressed himself on Ukraine’s president-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s intention to issue Ukrainian passports to Russians who ‘suffer’.
“If they grant citizenship to Russians in Ukraine and we [grant citizenship] to Ukrainians in Russia, sooner or later we will inevitably arrive at a common denominator and result <…> We will have common citizenship!” Putin said and smiled.
In addition, the Russian leader advised Zelenskiy to start issuing passports to citizens of Georgia, hinting at ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili whose leaving Ukraine hit the international headlines in 2018.
Having made a comment on Zelenskiy’s statement, Putin sarcastically said goodbye in the Ukrainian language.
Путин, высказавшись о Зеленском и общем с Украиной гражданстве, попрощался с журналистами по-украински: “До побачення” pic.twitter.com/V8qKt6vgdc
— Кремлевский пул РИА (@Kremlinpool_RIA) April 29, 2019
On April 24, 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’. Later, Putin stated that the authorities were ready to grant Russian citizenship to all Ukrainians.
In response, Zelenskiy recommended them ‘not to waste their time trying to bait the citizens of Ukraine with passports of the Russian Federation’ and promised to issue Ukrainian citizenship to all Russians who ‘suffer from the authoritarian and corrupt regime’.