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Last Tuesday, the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) instructed the Cabinet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, border guards, and the State Migration Service to develop a set of measures to strengthen control over entry and exit, as well as finding citizens of other countries and stateless persons in Ukraine. As you know, the decision was made in order to strengthen control over the border crossing and the movement of Russian citizens. Commenting on the decision, NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov said that this was done "to protect the country from penetration of terrorists, saboteurs, spies, criminals, and illegal migrants into its territory."
Why this will affect Europeans?
Our source in the State Border Service notes that probably a number of documents will be draft amendments to existing laws. According to his information, State Border Service might get additional 300 million UAH for the purchase of necessary equipment. This is necessary to avoid the queues at the border after the introduction of the procedure for collecting biometric data. Currently, there are no technical means to 100% ensure this task, and accordingly, there are queues.
"It is not a question of entry into Ukraine solely on the basis of a biometric passport. The fact is that Ukraine to take biometric data of all the foreigners without exception. For Russians, preliminary registration is also required (they will have to inform on the dates of their visit to Ukraine and their purposes),"explained our source. He noted that these norms do not embrace Ukrainians, who, for example, are returning from the Russian Federation. It is exclusively about foreigners.
It is noteworthy that EU citizens who have biometric passports will also have to pass the procedure of fingerprints. The Ukrainian border guards will not be able to read the information about the imprints that have already been written on the chip, the source said: "This information is on the closed part of the chip, which can be removed only on the basis of bilateral agreements with each country. All foreigners would be fingerprinted at the first entrance, and this information would be kept in a database."
Presidential press service confirmed information that biometric control will be introduced for all foreign citizens crossing the state border. "We are talking about strengthening control over the entry and exit and stay of citizens of other states on the territory of Ukraine - we introduce biometric control for all citizens who cross the Ukrainian border. We need to have biometric data, including fingerprints and digital photos. It would give us more capacities to fight against terrorism," president’s press service claimed.
Is there anything similar in the other countries?
In general, introduction of rules for the removal of prints on the Ukrainian border is consistent with international practice, said Eterna Law senior lawyer Karina Pavlyuk. According to her, the main reason why the other countries do this is the desire to prevent the possibility of terrorist attacks and create obstacles to the movement of persons with passports issued not on their real names.
The lawyer said that the United States introduced the practice of collecting biometric data on the border in 2004. A year later, the foreigners were obliged to hand over fingerprints of ten fingers, not two, like when issuing visas at the consulate. The decision was made after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Now many countries collect biometric data of foreigners at the borders. In addition to the United States, this is done in particular by Great Britain, France, Japan, Australia, and China. The procedure for fingerprinting is regulated mainly by anti-terrorism legislation (international and domestic of different countries).
Ukrainians in the EU would also face it
Since April 2016, the EU has been working to implement the Entry / Exit System (EES), says Karina Pavlyuk: "In particular, it is planned to capture fingerprints on entry and exit from persons who are not EU citizens (this includes citizens of Ukraine with biometric passports). In addition, the law will apply to citizens who are entitled to stay on the territory of the EU on the basis of residence permits (resident cards)."
July 3, the European Parliament and the EU Council provided political support to the bill submitted to the European Commission. It is interesting that the initiative has caused indignation only in Russia. The head of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, Alexei Pushkov, threatened with "the great price that Ukraine will pay for complicating entry to the Russians." He also called for introducing the same measures in the country for the Ukrainians.
Moldovan President Igor Dodon said that Ukraine's introduction of biometric control for foreigners would create additional problems for the trips of Moldovan citizens to Ukraine. At the same time, he added that the Moldovans are reluctant to go to Ukraine because of its instability.