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28 Jan, 2021 06:07

Ukraine may legalize dual citizenship – but those with Russian passports should be banned from voting, draft law says

Ukraine may legalize dual citizenship – but those with Russian passports should be banned from voting, draft law says

A draft law on dual citizenship submitted to the Ukrainian parliament calls for the limitation of rights for passport holders of so-called “aggressor countries” – a label that Kiev has been using to describe neighbor Russia.

At present, rules forbid Ukrainians from having the citizenship of another state, but they don't provide for any punishment for such a violation. Many people have taken advantage of this loophole to obtain foreign passports, including Russian ones. In 2020 alone, more than 400,000 Ukrainians were granted Russian citizenship.

In order to bring clarity to the situation, the ruling Servant of the People faction of President Volodymyr Zelensky has prepared a draft law on dual citizenship. According to MPs, it will allow foreign passport holders to embed themselves into Ukrainian life and become, or legally remain, part of the political process in the country, while maintaining their foreign allegiance.

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However, not all foreign passports will be welcome in Ukraine if the law is passed. “If a Ukrainian citizen has a citizenship of a country recognized as an aggressor in relation to Ukraine, said citizen faces a ban from exercising electoral rights,” the draft legislation states.

Restrictions on voting, running for parliament or applying for government jobs will remain in place until “aggressor” status is removed from the country by the Kiev authorities or the Ukrainian citizen surrenders the passport of that state.

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Kiev branded Russia an “aggressor country” in 2015, a year after Crimea was reabsorbed by Moscow, following a referendum, and the conflict in eastern Ukraine broke out. The Ukrainian authorities have blamed Russia for supporting the self-defense forces of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk with weapons, money and manpower, while also spying on the country and staging cyberattacks.

Russia has repeatedly denied the claims of meddling, and pointed out that it wasn’t a party to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin and other officials in Moscow have maintained that Ukraine remains a brotherly nation to Russia despite the provocative behavior of politicians in Kiev.

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