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7 Feb, 2020 14:09

Russia to drop dual citizenship restriction, make acquiring passport easier with ‘revolutionary’ new bill – Kommersant

Russia to drop dual citizenship restriction, make acquiring passport easier with ‘revolutionary’ new bill – Kommersant

Have you always fancied a Russian passport, but had doubts about relinquishing your current citizenship? Well, you may be in luck under new proposals apparently being drafted in Moscow.

Newspaper Kommersant, citing sources in a working group to reform state migration, says the Kremlin is poised to ditch its long-standing restrictions on dual citizenship. 

The primary target is people from what Moscow considers “fraternal states,” such as Belarus, Ukraine, and other former Soviet republics – many of which are mired in poverty. Russia, facing its own demographic issues, sees them as a convenient source of the migrant labor it needs to maintain economic growth. 

Many residents of these countries may have considered moving to Russia but were put off by the idea of losing the option to eventually return home, especially if they have property or family there. Of course, the new rules would presumably apply beyond the “near abroad” opening up fresh sources of migrants. 

Earlier this year, President Vladimir Putin personally called for the cancellation of the Russian language test for Ukranian and Belarussian citizens. He implemented a simplified process for residents of Ukraine's breakaway Donbass, in 2019.  

“We want this matter to be settled in the spring session [of parliament] so that everyone can become Russian citizens,” State Duma Deputy Speaker Peter Tolstoy told Kommersant. “Consequently, what will Russia do? She [Russia] will protect her citizens.”

In 2018 the population of Russia declined for the first time in a decade. This trend continued into 2019, as deaths outnumbered births by over 250,000. However, immigration offset a considerable amount of the decline.

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly asked his government to introduce measures to stem the tide of depopulation. The working group, founded almost a year ago, is tasked with attracting as many new citizens to Russia as possible.

Authors of the bill hope that the outfit's suggestions, including this dual-citizenship amendment, will help attract between five and ten million new Russian citizens, primarily from Russian-speaking populations in post-Soviet states.

Communist Party Deputy Leonid Kalashnikov told Kommersant that the dual-citizenship bill is “revolutionary,” and informed the newspaper that it “will definitely be introduced in the State Duma in February.”

Other changes to the law include abolishing the necessity for five years of continuous residence before applying for citizenship, as well as eliminating the need to prove a legitimate source of income.

The draft law is not yet completed, and the legislation will likely be passed within the next few months.

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