The Kremlin is considering a scenario of providing citizens of the DPR and LNR with Russian citizenship under a simplified procedure, told RBC sources. To implement this plan requires a presidential decree.
After the second round of presidential elections in Ukraine, which is scheduled for April 21, Russia can introduce a simplified procedure for granting citizenship to Ukrainians living in the territory of the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics. Such a scenario is being considered in the Kremlin, a draft of the relevant presidential decree, Vladimir Putin, has already been prepared, a source close to the presidential administration told RBC and confirmed by an interlocutor familiar with the preparation of the document.
According to RBC sources, it is expected that, according to a presidential decree, residents of the DPR and the LPR will be able to obtain Russian passports under a simplified procedure – without mandatory examinations and compliance with the requirement to stay in Russia for more than five years.
Over the past months, Russian security officials and officials had a series of meetings with employees of the LPR and DPR migration services on this topic, the RBC source at the Investigation Committee of Russia added (representatives of this department participated in the meetings).
A source close to the leadership of the DPR confirmed that this is a simplified procedure for issuing Russian passports to residents of the republics. According to him, the main conditions for the change of citizenship will be the presence of passports LC and DNR and the surrender of the Ukrainian passport.
“Silovik will be able to issue on the spot, civilians will have to travel to the Rostov region (Matveyev Kurgan),” said the interlocutor of RBC. “The budgetary institutions collect information about who has a DNR passport and who does not.”
Deputy of the People’s Council of the DPR Vladislav Brig said that the data on the issued DPR passports are in the district migration services. “I don’t think that such information should be additionally collected in principle,” he told RBC.
A member of the Minsk contact group, advisor to the head of the LPR, Rodion Miroshnik also said that he did not see the need to “collect at the budget institutions something that is in the migration service”.
RBC sent a request to the Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov with a request to comment on the draft decree on the simplified procedure for issuing Russian passports for residents of the LPR and DPR. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the LNR, Vladislav Dane, declined to comment.
RBC sent inquiries to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia and the DPR. The press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the LPR did not respond to RBC calls.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the DPR at the beginning of 2018, more than 150 thousand residents of the republic received its passports. At the end of 2017, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the LPR spoke about issuing 100,000 republican passports. The population of both republics, according to official statistics, is 3.7 million people. According to the RBC investigation at the beginning of 2017, the holders of passports of the DPR and LPR can use the services of the Russian railway, airlines and hotels.
The law, which gives the president the authority to decide who can obtain Russian citizenship under the simplified scheme, entered into force at the end of March. The adopted amendments will allow granting Russian citizenship to people from countries with a complex socio-political and economic situation, as well as from states where armed conflicts and regime changes occur.
In addition, the law simplifies the admission to Russian citizenship of compatriots living abroad. RBC sources say that the new presidential decree is needed to specify the persons who can obtain citizenship in a simplified manner in the DPR and the LPR.
Rumors about the possible issuance of Russian passports in the republics are annually exaggerated, but in 2019 Russian officials and some leaders of the republics spoke openly about such a scenario. In mid-February 2019, the State Duma deputy from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Sergei Gavrilov told the News Front portal that, in accordance with the law signed by the president, residents of Donbass will be able to obtain Russian citizenship in a simplified manner.
In early March, the ex-Secretary of the DPR Security Council and the founder of the Vostok battalion, Alexander Khodakovsky, reported, citing sources, about the forthcoming passporting of the DPR and LPR. He suggested that in the event of a military exacerbation, the possession of citizenship of hundreds of thousands of residents of the republics “will enable the Russian government to declare the need to fulfill its duty to protect its citizens by analogy to Transdniestria.”
Photo: Taras Litvinenko / RIA News
Later, the ex-DPR Minister of Defense Igor Strelkov wrote on his future passporting on his page on VKontakte. “From the beginning of April, according to trustworthy information, a series of presidential decrees will be issued, significantly simplifying the acquisition of citizenship by“ certain categories of foreign citizens. ” (Residents of the republics will fall into one of these categories.) The procedure will be significantly simplified and shortened in time, ”said Strelkov. He noted that, first of all, the officials and security officials of the republics will be able to get a Russian passport.
In mid-March, voenkor and War Gonzo author Semen Pegov reported on the imminent simplification of the procedure for obtaining citizenship for residents of the DPR and the LPR, citing sources in the security forces of the DPR. With this statement, he spoke in the program “60 minutes” on the TV channel “Russia 1”.
The Ukrainian side also spoke about the possible issuance of passports. “The leadership of the so-called People’s Militia of the LPR was informed that after the relevant decree was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, residents of LDNR, who already have LPR and DPR passports, will be able to receive passports of citizens of the Russian Federation,” Dmitry Tymchuk.
Oleksandr Khodakovsky assessed the story of passporting as an instrument of influence of Russia on Ukraine depending on the outcome of the presidential election: “Already made the forms, and our interior ministers were tasked to prepare databases, and even highlighted the unofficial faces of federal media, but not announced officially and as if left room for maneuver. “
The scenario of Russian passporting of the LC and the DPR is an element of bargaining Moscow with Kiev around the future of Donbass, says a RBC source close to the Kremlin.
The introduction of a simplified procedure for granting citizenship for residents of the republics of Donbass is a response to the long-standing request of people living there for the normalization of life, explained the source of RBC, close to the foreign policy department. This step may close a hypothetical window of opportunity for negotiations, which opens in the event of a change of power in Kiev, but it is impossible to ignore the hopes of the residents of the republics, he said.
Political analyst Vadim Samodurov notes that the topic of Donbass passporting has been raised repeatedly and without this step, Russia’s efforts to support the republics of Donbass “look half-hearted and indecisive.”
“But three years ago, the costs of“ certification ”of the republics outweighed any political and other benefits, so caution and pragmatism of the Russian authorities are understandable and justified, he argues. “Now“ passporting ”is hardly likely to aggravate the sanctions pressure.”
According to Samodurov, passporting is rather the Kremlin’s working scenario in the event of a crisis in the development of events in the region.
The implementation of such a scenario right after the elections will say that Moscow does not seriously consider the prospect of constructive negotiations with Vladimir Zelensky in the event of his victory, the head of the Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions program of the Carnegie Moscow Center Andrei Kolesnikov believes.
“This is deliberately hostile actions and a strategic challenge for Zelensky, whose program talked about peace in the Donbas,” the expert said. In addition, among the risks of the passporting scenario, he calls the introduction of regular Western sanctions against Russia.
Information on the certification of Donbass before the second round of the Ukrainian elections will most likely play in favor of Petro Poroshenko, but due to the current president’s large backlog from Zelensky, he is unlikely to decide the outcome of the elections, political analyst Alexei Makarkin believes.
“Another thing is that the decision on certification, in fact, demonstrates that it is not possible to come to an agreement with Kiev, which means that the sanctions will remain. Russia is getting used to living in emergency conditions, ”the expert concludes.
The decision on the certification of Donbass is fraught with a further outflow of the population from the Donbass to Russia, Kolesnikov said. The territories of the DPR and the LPR are already maintained at the expense of Russia, so the adoption of citizens of the republics is unlikely to increase the burden on the Russian budget – on the contrary, Makarkin believes.
According to the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, as of February 5, 2019, the number of internally displaced persons registered since the beginning of the armed conflict (2014) was 1.36 million. This was stated in the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. From January 2014 to July 2017, 427 thousand citizens of Ukraine sought asylum in Russia, UN officials said. According to her, the conflict in the region claimed more than 10 thousand civilian lives.
Since 2014, only 2.5 million citizens of Ukraine officially migrated to Russia, spoke in April 2018 at a speech in the Duma, chairman of the committee on CIS affairs, Eurasian integration and relations with compatriots Leonid Kalashnikov.
Vladimir Dergachev, Polina Khimshiashvili
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