Russia to take steps to protect interests of its expats living in Turkmenia

Moscow is taking active steps through diplomatic channels to protect the interests of its expatriates following Turkmenia's withdrawal from the agreement on dual citizenship, Alexander Yakovenko, the official Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Wednesday.

According to him, Foreign Ministry representatives are leaving for Ashkhabad one of these days to hold consultations on the implementation of a protocol concerning the winding up of the agreement.

"The response by Russia's Foreign Ministry to Turkmenia's unilateral withdrawal from the 1993 agreement on dual citizenship contrary to provisions and procedures stipulated in the April 2003 protocol on terminating that agreement, was immediate," Yakovenko recalled. He indicated that "the Russian side continues to consider the 1993 agreement valid, and the protocol on its termination as having no retroactive effect and designed to regulate citizenship relations which may arise only when it goes into effect.

In April, Turkmenia's President Saparmurat Niyazov signed a decree under which persons who received dual citizenship under the agreement between Turkmenia and Russia must opt for citizenship of one of the countries within a period of two months. Under the decree, persons who have the citizenship of both countries, reside in Turkmenia and have failed to report their preferred citizenship are considered to be Turkmen citizens.

Citizens permanently residing in other states must within two months announce which citizenship they choose and inform the republic's consular offices. If they fail to do so, they will lose Turkmen citizenship.

According to preliminary estimates, the decree will affect between 80,000 and 120,000 Russia's expatriates, most of whom are ethnic Russians and reside in Turkmenia permanently.

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