Putin promises to defend Russian citizens in Turkmenistan

When answering a RIA Novosti question at a Kremlin press conference today, President Vladimir Putin assured people that the situation for Russian citizens in Turkmenistan would not deteriorate.

Putin said that, following the signing of a protocol on the end to a treaty on dual citizenship between Russia and Turkmenistan, an agreement had been reached that it referred to those citizens, who wanted to obtain dual citizenship from that moment onwards. "It does not cover those citizens, who already have dual citizenship," he explained.

According to the Russian head of state, he had recently discussed this issue with the president of Turkmenistan on two occasions, including yesterday. Saparmurad Niyazov assured him that Ashkhabad would not take any actions that would make the situation of those Russian citizens living in Turkmenistan any worse before a high-ranking working group had concluded its work.

Putin said that this group would be chaired by Russia's deputy foreign minister and Turkmenistan's foreign minister. The group will begin its work in the near future.

"We shall consistently defend our citizens, wherever they may live - in Europe, Africa or Central Asia," the president said.

At the same time, he focused on the fact that this needed to be done "very correctly." He said that this subject should not be hijacked for purposes of popularisation, "for self-promotion in the period of political campaigns." "Our actions should be constructive, designed to help our citizens living abroad, and not complicate their situation through poorly devised moves," he said.

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