Support The Moscow Times!

Putin Endorses Eased Citizenship Requirements

President Vladimir Putin in his state-of-the-nation address Wednesday called for legislative amendments simplifying the process of obtaining Russian citizenship, amendments that could allow millions of people to receive Russian passports.

Putin, who has made strengthening national identity one of his political priorities for his third presidential term, said the new legislation should allow Russian speakers and descendants of citizens of the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union to be able to obtain citizenship.

"I ask that a procedure be worked out for granting Russian citizenship to our compatriots, to speakers of the Russian language and bearers of Russian culture, to direct descendants of those who were born in the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union," Putin said.

He added that those who take Russian passports would be required to renounce their current citizenship.

According to current legislation, people can apply for Russian citizenship only if they have permanently resided in Russia for five years and speak Russian. People who don't meet the residency requirement can apply for citizenship if a parent is a Russian citizen who lives in Russia. People without passports who were Soviet citizens are also eligible to get citizenship faster.

The president called the current legislation, which was passed in 2002, during Putin's first term as president, "terribly bureaucratic."

Amendments proposed by Federation Council senators, including Vladimir Dzhabarov, would abolish the five-year residency requirement.

If the amendments are passed, up to 25 million people who live outside the Russian Federation, most of them former Soviet citizens, could receive Russian citizenship, experts say.

It is unclear whether the law would apply to citizens of Poland and Finland, both of which were part of the Russian Empire before the Bolshevik Revolution.

The proposed amendments have met with resistance from nationalist groups, which have said that poorly educated migrants from Central Asian states might use the new law to settle in Russia.

"Russian society will turn into a conglomerate of rival ethnic communities," Daniil Konstantinov, a nationalist member of the opposition Coordination Council, said in an op-ed for the Svobodnaya Pressa online newspaper last month in reference to the bill.

Also in his speech, Putin said that as of 2015, entrance to Russia should be allowed only for people traveling with foreign travel passports instead of internal ones, as is permitted for people from some countries.

"It is practically impossible to establish effective migration control," he said.

The move would mostly affect citizens of former Soviet states who travel to Russia using internal identification documents. As in Russia, in many CIS countries people have separate obligatory internal passports and optional foreign travel passports.

Related articles:

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

Once
Monthly
Annual
Continue
paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more