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8 Sep, 2015 13:59

Orthodox faith should speed up Russian citizenship applications - MP

Orthodox faith should speed up Russian citizenship applications - MP

A nationalist party’s lawmaker is planning to draft a bill that would fast-track Russian citizenship for Orthodox Christians on the grounds that people of traditional Russian religious faith have better chances of integrating into society.

Mikhail Degtyaryov, an MP for the Liberal Democratic Party in the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, has promised that in the next few months he will propose a series of amendments to the Russian Law on Citizenship allowing any person speaking Russian, having a source of income and practicing the Russian Orthodox faith to get a Russian passport if this person already legally resides in the country.

Currently, Russian law requires that potential applicants for citizenship live in the country for five years without interruption from the date they received their residence permits. Exceptions to this rule are allowed for people born in the Russian Federation who Soviet citizenship, those married to Russian citizens for at least three years and people who cannot earn their living but whose children are Russian citizens.

Another way to receive a Russian passport quickly is to invest 10 million rubles (over $150,000) into some sectors of the Russian economy, on condition that the enterprise belonging to the investor pays at least 18 million rubles (about $273,000) over the first three years after the investment is made.

READ MORE: Russian PM eases citizenship rules to foreign investors

Currently, Russia offers no special status to Orthodox Christians in their citizenship applications and Degtyaryov said in press comments that he disagreed with this approach. “The issue of migrants’ religion is very important and we should take it into consideration,” he said. “An absolute majority of people in the country are Orthodox Christians. It will be more comfortable for us if people with a similar mentality start to live with us,” the lawmaker told Izvestia daily.

The church in Russia is divided from the state, but the state must heed the majority’s interests,” he said. “We should use the following formula with migrants – if you practice Orthodox Christianity and speak Russian, you can come and work here. If you like your work, you can stay and live with us.”

Degtyaryov also noted that to his knowledge Europe “has already had enough of multiculturalism” and that verbal tricks used by advocates of multi-confessional society were not working when it came to large groups of people and their common interests.

READ MORE: New citizenship shortcut for Russian-speakers of Soviet, Imperial ancestry

The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia is known for its populist policies and Mikhail Degtyaryov has previously made controversial proposals that made media headlines.
These include proposals to sue Germany for WWII damages, the idea to change the current Russian flag to the 19th century imperial Tsarist standard and even the suggestion to whitewash the walls and towers of the Moscow Kremlin to return it to its original historical look.