Russia's passport politics in occupied Donbas

Author : Mykyta Sinitsyn

Source : 112 Ukraine

Is it Ukrainian authorities overture or another kind of aggression and militarization?
14:10, 6 May 2019

State Border Guard Service of Ukraine

After five years of promises that the heads of the self-proclaimed people's republics in Donbas began to be partially implemented – after recent rumors about the beginning of issuing Russian citizenship in a simplified manner, on April 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree giving the green light for this action.

According to the unanimous point of view of experts, politicians and ordinary citizens, this document is important for Ukraine and is a catalyst for three scenarios for Donbas and Ukraine.

Related: Zelensky's team preparing response to issuing Russian passports to Donbas residents

1) Realistic - an invitation for Kyiv to negotiate and Ukrainian authorities overture

Coupled with the ban on the export of petroleum products from the Russian Federation to Ukraine on April 18, the decree of April 24 was interpreted by most experts as a kind of invitation for the Ukrainian authorities led by Volodymyr Zelensky to negotiate on the “Donbas issue.” The obvious intention of the Russian Federation to win on the diplomatic front puts Volodymyr Zelensky in an unpleasant situation. On the other hand, it is hardly possible to conduct serious negotiations in a country where in just a few months a new parliament will be elected and a new configuration of power will emerge.

2) Pessimistic – aggression and militarization

The hawks on both sides are apologists for the most dismal way of explaining the consequences and the appointment of a presidential decree. However, DPR representatives have their own specifics. They believe that after distributing their citizenship, Russia would be able to act more harshly in the event of a violation of the rights of their citizens, which should, in theory, reduce the level of violence in Donbas.

Related: Citizens of occupied Donbas who want to get Russian passports to be liable for military service

In turn, in Ukraine, many experts and current president Poroshenko believe that this action is nothing but the preparation of a “legitimate” reason for the aggression against Ukraine “in order to protect the rights of its citizens.” A kind of “08/08/08” Russian-Georgian war scenario. You can use a pessimistic forecast and in a milder version, for example, to use the possibility of “legitimate aggression” in Ukraine as a lever of constant pressure to make decisions that are beneficial for Russia in domestic Ukrainian politics.

3) Optimistic – Russia is preparing to leave

Undoubtedly, the most desirable option for every Ukrainian patriot is an explanation for the adoption of the decree that appeared is the preparation of the Russian Federation of an alternate aerodrome for its supporters in the event of Russia’s withdrawal from Donbas. Of course, this assumption is pleasant and too naive, because the Russian Federation has no objective prerequisites for leaving Donbas.

So, the presidential decree of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin allows, in a simplified procedure, to obtain Russian citizenship subject to the conditions and such documents as:

- application;

- passport  of the so-called “Donetsk/Luhansk people’s republic citizen;”

- a document certifying the change of surname, name and (or) middle name;

- a document on the availability of citizenship of a foreign state (in our case, the passport of a citizen of Ukraine);

- a document on conducting (termination) marriage;

- birth certificate of the child.

Related: Russia launches ‘passportization’ in occupied Ukrainian Donbas (Part Two)

There are only two places, where the documents can be submitted for obtaining Russian citizenship – the consulate of the Russian Federation (it is impossible in unrecognized “people's republics”) and a territorial body of the Federal Migration Service in the Russian Federation.

Although many documents for filing for the citizenship of the Russian Federation have been canceled, their submission would still cost several thousand Russian rubles: a translation from Ukrainian into Russian of one document would cost from 600 to 1000 RUB (15 USD), and most importantly, the decree does not mention abolition of the state duty of 3,500 RUB (53 USD). We should not forget about traveling expenses. The cost of the trip would cost at least 100 USD, for many people in the “DPR” it is almost their monthly salary.

The passport of a citizen of the Russian Federation is not a magic wand and does not provide housing or high-paying work in the Russian Federation. But there are not so many people who want to spend at least a monthly salary in exchange for such a prospect, their time and stress for paperwork and communication with the officials.

Related: Russia explains issuance of its passports to Donbas people

Of course, this does not mean that there would be no people willing to obtain Russian passport – most likely, the initiative would be taken by the supporters of the self-proclaimed “DPR,” “state employees,” as well as workers from Donbas who, not finding a job at home, decided to go to the Russian Federation. The last Russian passport will be very profitable, because it will allow you to legalize your presence and earnings on the territory of the Russian Federation, at least in theory.

No less advantageous is Russian citizenship to the “civil servants of the DPR” and to the “servicemen” who in fact promise the latter to organize extradition almost at the places of permanent deployment. True, the latter will certainly be a 100% violation of the Minsk agreements, but one more, one less - this has long been considered a little.

Another issue is the mass transfer of pensioners from the “DPR” to the Russian pension system, given the difference in the size of the minimum pension: 3,100 RUB (47 USD) in the “DPR” and 7,800 RUB (120 USD) in the Russian Federation.

First of all, the pensioner must refuse from the Ukrainian pension or provide evidence that he does not receive it. It is not entirely clear whether the Ukrainian pension paid in “DPR” is equivalent, but that is not important either.

Also, the pensioner from the “DPR” must provide information about his work experience for 60 months before 2002.

Related: Russia launches ‘passportization’ in occupied Ukrainian Donbas (Part One)

Social payment in the Russian Federation is a regular cash payment, paid to citizens who are recognized as disabled or do not have the experience necessary for the appointment of a labor retirement pension.

The minimum social pension in the Russian Federation is 5,034 Russian rubles - undoubtedly more than the 3,100 rubles of minimum salary received by the “DPR” pensioners, but not 7,800, as with “full-fledged” Russian citizens.

In a word, Ukraine should not be afraid of the mass obtaining of residents of Donbas of the Russian citizenship, however, to justify their possible military actions against Ukraine, there would be sufficiently few of them.

Related: Donbas citizens to file applications for Russian passport from May 3

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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners. 

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