Poroshenko's fatal blow: War against multiple citizenship

Author : Serhiy Sydorenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

Find out the key threats of president's law on citizenship in Ukraine
23:28, 16 March 2017

Read the original text at

Resonant events associated with the Donbas transport blockade somewhat reduced attention to the new initiatives of the President. Too serious are the changes suggested by Bankova.

So, March 13, Poroshenko submitted to parliament draft amendments to the legislation aimed at combating dual citizenship. On Tuesday, before the document was delievered to parliamentary committees and experts, the project was included in the agenda, and 234 deputies voted for this. In the even, we received yet another confirmation that Bankova is trying to quickly pass a law through Verkhovna Rada, a special directive of AP to the deputies from Poroshenko’s Bloc.

This document explains how MPs should protect the position of their party leader and prove the usefulness of the initiative.

Related: Ukraine closes doors to multiple citizenship: Secrets of president's project

But we should at least understand the risks posed by the presidential initiative.

  • There is no complete ban on dual citizenship in Ukraine: dual citizenship is now allowed in some cases directly.
  • The presidential draft does not contain any prohibitions, but introduces penalties for dual citizenship. But it might be applied selectively.
  • The easiest way to avoid punishment would have those with Russian passports - so beautiful words about national security are just slogans. The main attack is against those those who have citizenship in the EU.
  • Hundreds of thousands of residents of Western Ukraine someday would become violators; sometimes, their share is close to 90%.
  • Poroshenko offers to deprive young Crimean people of Ukrainian citizenship - even those who consider themselves Ukrainians.
  • Moreover, Bankova managed to file a bill that violates the international obligations of Ukraine.

It should be added: the idea of deprivation of those who owe several passports is not prohibited. Ukraine has the right to do it, as well as do a number of EU countries. But the question is how to apply this rule.

The myth of dual citizenship

"The Constitution bans dual citizenship. So triple citizenship is not prohibited." This statement of Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky became a "hit."  In 2014, Kolomoisky admitted that he had passports of three states - Ukraine, Israel, and Cyprus.

The majority perceived Kolomoisky’s statement literally - at least its first part, that "dual citizenship is prohibited by the Constitution." In fact, it is not.

Moreover, in some cases Ukraine directly allows dual citizenship, and temporary and permanent.

"Ukraine has a single citizenship," says art. 4 of the Constitution of Ukraine, adding that more citizenship issues are described by a separate law. These five words gave birth of the myth of the dual citizenship prohibition. "One" is the opposite of the word "double".

Related: EU intends to extend sanctions against Russian citizens on March 15, - source

To refute this view, just open the law "On citizenship", which refers to the Constitution. It provides a definition of the term:

Single citizenship rules out the possibility of citizenship of administrative territorial units of Ukraine. If a citizen of Ukraine acquires citizenship of another state or states, then in legal relations with Ukraine he is recognized as the citizen of Ukraine. If a foreigner acquires the citizenship of Ukraine, then in legal relations with Ukraine he is recognized as the citizen of Ukraine.

Thus, a single citizenship does not indicate banning dual one: it just means that there are no citizens of Crimea, Kyiv or Lviv.

Moreover, the article expressly provides that a citizen of Ukraine could have citizenship of other countries.

Five ways of fair passports selection

Contrary to what is written above, dual citizenship permit is not absolute.

For example, in Ukraine it is no complete ban, but some ban still exists.

Under current law, "the grounds for loss of Ukrainian citizenship... is voluntary acquisition of citizenship of another state, if at the moment of such acquisition, the citizen became adult." The term "voluntary" means that a citizen had applied for a passport. This rule law provides a number of exceptions. For example, if our citizen married to a foreigner, or for those who have the right to foreign citizenship from birth.

However, this rule is declarative. Now Ukraine does not have any mechanisms of deprivation of citizenship. Poroshenko’s project adds them to the law.

Related: Nasirov denies British and Hungarian citizenship

In case of bill’s approval, the President gives reason to recognize a citizen of Ukraine as such who voluntarily lost citizenship if he got a passport of another country. And in order to find those people, the bill provides some ways of verification.

Thus, the state plans to look for those who:

  • participated in elections or other voting as a citizen of another state;
  • "took another right" of citizen of a foreign country;
  • “fulfilled obligations” of a citizen of a foreign state (any!);
  • used another passport in order to enter Ukraine;
  • used another passport in order to leave Ukraine.

Poroshenko plans searching for "offenders" through requests to the authorities of other countries and their public registries "on official websites in the official publications."

Those who recently received a Ukrainian passport and did not give the passport of another country would be also punished.

All the violators would be deprived of their citizenship automatically - no matter the person was a citizen of Ukraine by birth or obtained the passport only a year ago. Sounds powerful. But if you go to the specifics, the question arises - how would the official Kyiv find out that the person has another passport? Of course, besides the obvious situations, when the Ukrainian gives two passports at passport control and admits: "I am the offender."

Sample sentence

In fact, many of the rules in the draft are just utopian.

It is impossible to find evidence that a person has two passports using the " state sites" or "media". So there are two ways.

The first, to conduct searches at the border, find passport stamps from another country.

The second way, to send requests to foreign authorities in cases where the Ukrainian special services have information on the nationality of the individual. In particular, in such a way, National anti-Corruption Bureau had received information about a British passport Roman Nasirov.

But there is one important detail.

Related: Former State Duma deputy gains Ukrainian citizenship

In practice, this means that we can take away the citizenship of those who have British or Romanian passport, but the Ukrainians with Russian passports would escape the punishment.

This is no joke, but a harsh reality.

A key principle of the law is "voluntariness." It means punishing those "dual citizens" who received passports deliberately, and not those who became “double” citizen not by choice. For example, a child whose parents are citizens of two different states, usually gets two citizenships.

And of course, Bankova did not think over these rare cases. The key question is Crimea. Its residents are known to be declared "Russians" without asking. After the annexation, they were not was not required to write any application for citizenship. For Ukraine, of course, it is important not to lose those Crimeans who still consider themselves Ukrainians.

But the rule also has side some effects. In most cases, it would be very difficult to take the Ukrainian passport from the Russian.

"The main issue is whether acquisition of citizenship was voluntary or not voluntary. And the information on this issue could be receive only from Russia, as a response to a formal request. And Russia would not provide such information. Thus, in practice, it is impossible to implement the law on dual citizens of Russians and Ukrainians," said lawyer Olga Poyedynok.

Even if "dual citizen" is Ukrainophobe, carrying posters of Putin, and living in Kharkiv, he can easily choose a convenient base for avoiding punishment or challenge it in court.

Related: Ukraine declared war on dual citizenship

Searching for rebellion

We should not forget about Romania and Hungary. Ukrainians that have citizenship of these countries are subjected to the most complicated risks.

Presidential bill primarily hits two regions of Ukraine - Bukovyna and Transcarpathia, because residents often have Romanian and Romanian or Hungarian citizenship in these regions. This is not an exceptional case, because the two neighboring countries offer a simplified procedure for acquiring citizenship.

Overall, the number of Ukrainians, who have received Hungarian passport in recent years, has exceeded 100 thousand - these are the official figures of the Hungarian government.

Romania instead not disclose details on how many Ukrainians, became its citizens, but expert estimates range from 50 to 100 thousands. In Ukraine, about 150 thousand people call themselves Romanians, and call Romanian their first language.

Related: Russian Federation granted citizenship to 9 ex-soldiers and ex-commander of Berkut special regiment Sadovnyk

Of course, this is not a reason to be proud of our state. But should we now put the question bluntly? There are whole regions and towns, 100% settled by those who are deprived of Ukrainian citizenship, or by those whom we would deprive soon. Many ethnic Romanians are not willing to give up Romanian citizenship.

Changes where they are not needed

Finally, it is necessary to quote from the explanatory note to the bill. Poroshenko’s team has a very topical argument: "Being citizen of Ukraine and a citizen of a foreign country, especially those involved in public service, creates some risks for the national security of Ukraine."

But the law on civil service already prohibits employment of Ukrainian citizens who have a second citizenship (Art. 19). If a civil servant receives a passport of another country, it will mean his immediate resignation (p. 84). Thus, "objectively," the aim, declared by Bankova, could be achieved without this law and the negative consequences that derive from it.

Perhaps, lawyers of Bankova perfectly understand this, and Poroshenko has a different goal - not to pass the law, but only to intimidate their coalition partners.


Related: Saakashvili: Poroshenko instructs to deprive me of citizenship through court

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