Russia is ready to export its scheme of passport issuance into EU, post-Soviet countries and other European states – report

Дата: 21 April 2024
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The Russian Federation is ready to export its scheme of passport issuance into the EU, post-Soviet countries and other European states. This scheme was refined during its military aggression in Ukrainе, according to the report “Passportisation in Ukraine”.

The report from the Eastern Human Rights Group (EHRG) and the Institute for Strategic Studies and Security (ISRS) discloses the methodology, tools, and means of Russian passportisation of Ukrainian citizens for the past 30 years.

The Russian Federation started to give out its passports on the territory of Ukraine long before Russia’s full-scale aggression. The first evidence of passportisation of the local population was recorded beginning in the 2000s. The main goal of this process is to reduce the number of citizens of Ukraine and create the basis for full-scale aggression of Russia in Ukraine. 

According to the report, the Russian Federation passport issuance is the scheme used for the spread of externally inspired separatism. It was launched to prepare the foundation for a military invasion of Ukraine and annexation of its territories. Such a basis was not intended for the international community but used for the domestic audience of Russia to create a false image of “Russians in Ukraine” and “brotherly people.”

“They hand out their passports first, and then they say they are going to protect “their citizens,” – Maxim Butchenko, Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Security, commented.

Maxim Butchenko

The authors of the report pointed out that Russian politicians claim Ukraine did not comply with the Minsk Agreements and that Germany and France specifically used the Minsk Agreements for military training of Ukrainian servicemen. However, Russian governmental bodies actively began issuing Russian passports on Ukrainian territory in 2019. 

The EHRG and the ISRS stressed that the Kremlin violated the Minsk Agreements by actively distributing passports of RF citizens, artificially increasing the number of the so-called “Russian citizens.” Before the military invasion, Russian politicians declared the need to provide “protection” to the “Russians of Donbas.”

In 2021, Kremlin political strategists implemented the Russian Donbas Doctrine project. It proclaimed the beginning of military aggression against Ukraine.

The foundation of this doctrine was the 900,000 “citizens of the RF” in the Donbas, i.e. 900,000 residents in the temporarily occupied territory of the Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts who were given Russian passports while facts of coercion in obtaining a Russian passport were kept silent.

After February 22, 2022, the Kremlin tightened the process of the RF passportisation. It made it a mandatory condition when obtaining a passport of a citizen of the RF that a person who was forced to gain a Russian passport write an application to renounce Ukrainian citizenship.

Amid this, the occupation authorities began to accept legislation that worsened the situation of Ukrainian citizens who refused to receive a Russian passport. For example, if a person has not re-registered their property according to Russian laws, the occupation administration takes the property. It is impossible to re-register the property without a Russian passport.

In addition, Ukrainian citizens can not obtain medicine for treating cancer or diabetes without a Russian passport and medical insurance.

Elderly people were given Russian passports through blackmail for not providing social assistance. 

Until October 2023, the occupying authorities could not cope with residents’ resistance to refusing Russian passports. Then, the Kremlin came up with a mass process of deportation of Ukrainian citizens, which was described in the report.

The purpose of RF passport issuance changed after the annexation. According to the report, the main goal of Russian passportisation is now to legally “ensure” the Ukrainian identity of Ukrainian citizens living in the temporarily occupied territories.

Russian passportisation is also an integral part of the deportation of Ukrainian children to the Russian Federation, as the occupying authorities change the children’s citizenship before deporting them.

Researchers concluded that such repressive policies are rooted in the systematic imperial policy of the Russian Federation, which has been implemented regardless of who ruled.

“It’s not about Vladimir Putin, not about his crazy ideology, but about Russia’s imperial policy towards Ukraine, which has been implemented regardless of personalities in power there. The main thing for us is not who will be in the Kremlin but how they build their relations with Ukraine. From the 1990s to 2014, the same ideological intent of Russia with systematic and intensified passportisation can be traced. This scheme can be exported to any country of the post-Soviet space and even European countries,”Butchenko said.

Having analysed the given facts and information, the EHRG and the ISRS concluded the passportisation of Ukrainian citizens living in the occupied territory can be considered a scheme aimed at genocide of the Ukrainian people by eradicating the Ukrainian identity among the local population.

These recommendations are addressed to the Government of Ukraine and the international community by the EHRG and the ISRS:

  • Recognise the Russian passportisation as a planned crime that began in 2000;
  • Identify key individuals who initiated, organised and implemented this process on Ukrainian territory;
  • Impose personal sanctions on those involved in passportisation;
  • Introduce criminal liability for campaigning and organising the acquisition of Russian passports for Ukrainian citizens;
  • Initiate the issuance of an arrest warrant for the main initiators and organisers of the issuance of Russian passports on the territory of Ukraine, including the Minister of the Ministry of Interior of Russia;
  • Introduce a ban on Russian organisations in other countries, such as Rossotrudnichestvo, Russian centres or organisations of compatriots;
  • Introduce stricter visa control restrictions for Russian citizens moving en masse to the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine;
  • Initiate recognition by the international community of Russian passportisation as an act of genocide;

The Joint Information and Analytical Group EHRG and ISRS prepared the analytical report based on research conducted in 2024.

The study provides information from the archive of the EHRG, which was created in 2015 and covers the period from 2000 to 2024.

The research was carried out through interviews with residents of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, assistants to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, former employees of the occupation administrations of Moscow-controlled illegal armed groups in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts (until 2022), and representatives of trade union organisations.

During the study period, the researchers conducted 179 interviews. Information was also collected from open and closed sources of information.

To prevent the implementation of this scheme in countries of the EU, post-Soviet, and other European countries, researchers believe it is essential to analyse the phased implementation of this project in Ukraine.

A human rights lawyer of the Eastern Human Rights Group, Vira Yastrebova, warned countries to pay attention to these passport issuance markers.

“Why is Russia doing this? To then manipulatively claim that they are going to liberate Russian citizens. The artificial creation of Russian citizens everywhere is the first step towards an invasion of this independent sovereign state,” – Vira Yastrebova commented.

Earlier at the international conference Global Crimea, Anton Korynevych, the ambassador-at-large of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called on countries from all continents to join the coalition in order to create a special tribunal for Russia.

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