New Citizenship Law Humiliates Russians

Officials say, the law should be redeveloped

The laws "About Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation" and "About Citizenship" have turned out to be insufficiently developed and humiliating for the Russian people. President Putin signed the law "About Citizenship" on May 31st, 2002. Hundreds of Russian people (who came from former Soviet republics) holding Soviet passports were deprived of their citizenship at once. They had to learn that they were not citizens of the Russian Federation.

Russian people of the older generation think that their Soviet passports and the Soviet citizenship will make them Russian citizens automatically, if they come to Russia (especially if they were born in Russia and did not hold the citizenship of the republic, in which they were living). The complicated process to obtain the Russian citizenship came out of the blue for them.

"We came from Kazakhstan in 1995. We bought a house, had all our documents registered, we started working. However, in 2001, when we started exchanging Soviet passports to new Russian ones, it turned out that we were Kazakh citizens. It turned out that we had no right to exchange the passports, we had to become Russian citizens first. We were lucky to change our citizenship within two months. The most interesting thing about it was the fact that I took part in Russian elections being a citizen of Kazakhstan. There are a lot of people, who cannot obtain the Russian citizenship, although they have been living in Russia for many years." S.Polityuk, the settlement of Krasny Yar.

"We came from Kyrgyzstan four years ago. At first I collected all the documents and sent them to the passport and visa service. About a year passed, but there was no answer. Eventually, I decided to go to the passport office myself. To my astonishment, they found no photographs and no documents at all. I had to start the paperwork all over again. I am a native Russian, so I finally obtained my passport. However, they issued only residence permits to my husband and my son." N. Burychina, the settlement of Tsibermanovo.

Boris Reprintsev, chief of the passport and visa service of the Altay regional police department commented on the situation: "It is hard to obtain the Russian citizenship indeed - the process consists of several stages. In addition, it takes quite a lot of time, one has to take numerous medical tests too. There is an agreement between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Russia, according to which one may submit documents after obtaining the residence permit registration. Passport service employees try to find the people, who still have old Soviet passports. They try to find out, if those people are going to hold the Russian Federation citizenship or not."

Vladimir Ryzhkov, a State Duma deputy: "I voted against the law "About Citizenship." In my opinion, the law has to be redeveloped completely, because it has caused considerable damage to Russia's geopolitical influence on the territory of the former Soviet Union. The law has also complicated the relations between Russia and the countries of the CIS. More importantly, the law infringed upon the interests of the Russian people living in former Soviet republics. People have to deal with employment problems, they have to make forged documents to make their living. The law "About Citizenship" has to be reconsidered as soon as possible. Vladimir Putin is aware of the problem, which is an encouraging factor."

Ivan Sheyenko, chief of the migration department of the Altay regional police department: "Indeed, the new editing of the federal law about citizenship humiliats the Russian people, who come to live in Russia on a permanent basis. Instead of the state support, they have to collect numerous documents and pay various fees and duties. I think that the process should be simplified for the Russian people, who come to Russia from CIS countries: the interim residence and permanent residence permits should be cancelled for them. This issue is extremely important against the background of the difficult demographic situation in Russia - the country needs more labor force."

On the photo: The cover of the Soviet passport