Duma seeks to protect Russian citizens in Turkmenistan

The State Duma has passed a resolution, "On the observance of Russian citizens' rights in Turkmenistan," which harvested 411 votes with merely 226 required for its adoption.

The MPs showed concern over the unilateral withdrawal by the Turkmen authorities from the Moscow-Ashkhabad agreement on double citizenship. In accordance with President Saparmurad Niyazov's decree, persons having a double citizenship ought to make their choice in favour of one citizenship, either that of the Russian Federation or Turkmenistan, until June 22, 2003. Those who will decide to retain Russian Federation citizenship are to be deprived of their title to real estate in Turkmenistan and to leave the republic before June 22.

In the opinion of deputies, it is the requirement of getting a permit for exit from Turkmenistan that is particularly humiliating for Russian Federation citizens.

"These moves border on persecution of people on ethnic grounds, which violates Turkmenistan's international obligations as regards protection of human rights and freedoms," says the resolution.

"One has virtually become witness to arrangements for violent deportation from Turkmenistan of ethnic Russians, about 100,000 people, who have received Russian citizenship in different times and are living now in Turkmenistan," goes on the resolution.

Niyazov's decree runs counter, deputies say, to the treaty on friendship and cooperation between the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan, the treaty on cooperation to ensure the rights of Russian minority in Turkmenistan and Turkmen community in the Russian Federation, the treaty on the legal status of Russian citizens, residents of Turkmenistan, and Turkmen citizens, residents of the Russian Federation.

The State Duma notes that a bilateral protocol on the expired validity of the agreement between the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan on double citizenship adjustment, has not been ratified by the Russian Federation and therefore cannot be considered to be in effect.

The failure to observe the procedure of the expiry of the protocol's validity does not enable the Russian Federation to recognize the unilateral withdrawal from it.

Besides, the Duma is drawing attention to numerous acts of violation of human rights in Turkmenistan.

This considered, the State Duma has called upon the president and government of Turkmenistan to cancel the decision on denouncing the agreement on double citizenship adjustment; to lift the demand of a mandatory choice of either citizenship before June 22, 2003; to cease the campaign of revealing persons with double citizenship and their persecution; to abolish the necessity for Russian citizens to get a permit for exit from Turkmenistan; to lift restrictions on Russian studies and Russian language tuition in secondary and higher educational establishments; to do away with all restrictions on the broadcasting of Russian television federal channels and free circulation of the Russian and foreign printed matter; to enable the population to have free access to the foreign mass media and the Internet as well as to stop the forced displacement of residents of Turkmenistan and to guarantee them the freedom of movement inside the country.

The State Duma has also appealed to Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin to bring these demands without delay to Turkmen President Niyazov's notice and to urge their full and prompt implementation.

The Duma document will be directed to President Vladimir Putin and the government of the Russian Federation, to CIS parliaments, the inter-parliamentary union, the parliaments of the member states of the Orgnisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and to Turkmenistan's mejlis.

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Author`s name Editorial Team