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“Draft Law No. 8297 does not provide for deprivation of Ukrainian citizenship of Crimeans that became Russian citizens,” lawyers say

Draft Law No. 8297 does not provide for deprivation of Ukrainian citizenship of Crimean citizens who became Russian citizens, as was stated by human rights lawyers at a press briefing at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center.

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“Ukrainian legislation on ensuring the rights and freedoms in temporarily occupied territories considers any actions of Crimea’s occupation authorities unlawful and without legal consequences. Also, Article 5 of the Law of Ukraine On Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens and the Rule of Law in Temporarily Occupied Territories also declares Russian citizenship obtained in Crimea unlawful, not recognized by Ukraine and devoid of legal consequences. Consequently, it does not entail a loss of citizenship,” says Maksym Tymochko, lawyer of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.

At the same time, the bill’s provisions are in need of clarification. “It was declared that obtaining Russian citizenship in Crimea as a result of illegal actions by occupation authorities is not recognized voluntary, and therefore is not enough grounds for the loss of Ukrainian citizenship. However, the draft law also contains an opposite provision, which left many people confused – it is said that if a citizen of Ukraine has used voting or other rights given to him or her by foreign citizenship, or has fulfilled obligations imposed by foreign citizenship, it is sufficient reason for the loss of Ukrainian citizenship,” explains Maksym Tymochko.

Maksym Tymochko, lawyer of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Maksym Tymochko, lawyer of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Olga Poyedynok, lawyer and member of the Public Council of the State Migration Service of Ukraine, remarked that the discrepancy between Draft Law No. 8297 and the existing Law On Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens and the Rule of Law in Temporarily Occupied Territories might create a parallel legal reality for Ukrainian citizens with Russian passports in Crimea. “If this had been supposed to be integrated in another law, the Law of Ukraine On Ukrainian Citizenship, it would have been better to just copy and paste the appropriate provisions. Instead, we’ve got provisions that, in text and substance, differ from those already established in the current legislation. This creates a risk of all kinds of manipulations and abuse,” she stressed.

According to human rights defenders, the bill had initially allowed depriving persons of Ukrainian citizenship for voting in Russia’s elections and exercising other rights and obligations in temporarily occupied Crimea, but it clashed with Art. 25 of Ukraine’s Constitution and the principles of the European Convention on Nationality. There would have also been a conflict with the principle of non-retroactivity of the law, since most of those who obtained Russian passports did so back in 2014.

Olga Poyedynok, lawyer, member of the Public Council of the State Migration Service of Ukraine
Olga Poyedynok, lawyer, member of the Public Council of the State Migration Service of Ukraine

Human rights defenders expressed concern that the government still has not provided detailed explanations to refute the rumors that, if the bill is adopted, all Crimeans with Russian passports would no longer be considered citizens of Ukraine. In addition, Russia is using this situation to its advantage. “It would be great if, in the future, Ukraine paid attention to the public’s reaction in such cases, because, based on Russia’s information policy – large-scale militarization and colonization of Crimea by Russian citizens – any such news will be used as propaganda, to make it look like Russia cares for Crimea while Ukraine does not. Those who remained in Crimea keep losing confidence in Ukraine when they hear such news”, says Vitaliy Nabukhotnyi, lawyer of the Regional Center for Human Rights.

According to Olga Poyedynok, this norm also carries risks in a broader context, since different levels of availability of information sources in different countries could simplify or complicate obtaining information that a citizen of Ukraine has been granted citizenship of another state, and due to this, Ukrainians with dual citizenship will have unequal chances to lose citizenship of Ukraine.

Vitaliy Nabukhotnyi, lawyer of the Regional Center for Human Rights
Vitaliy Nabukhotnyi, lawyer of the Regional Center for Human Rights

“We call on the government to finally comment on the bill and explain what they were trying to achieve when they registered it. We also ask to clarify the bill when it’s going to be examined in specialized Parliamentary committees, in order to ease social tensions and set things straight,” summed up Maksym Tymochko.

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