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

Author : Lilia Brudnytska

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukrainian corruptionists from state administration would have to reconsider their attitude towards the Motherland, otherwise they might lose their Ukrainian passport
15:11, 14 March 2017

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Monday, March 13, can become a "black day" for dishonest Ukrainian VIPs. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko submitted to the Verkhovna Rada a bill "On Amending the Law On Citizenship regarding the realization of the right of changing the citizenship." It is assumed that if the parliament adopts the document, it will solve the problem of actual multi-nationality.

The reason for creating this project were cases of officials fleeing abroad or covering their backs with foreign passports. At least this is said in the explanatory note of the document. However, this document is unlikely to solve the existing challenge.

A shock for officials, politicians and oligarchs?

Formally, the project is aimed at eliminating ignitions in Ukrainian legislation: although dual citizenship is prohibited, there is no responsibility for non-compliance with this requirement. But there is also a second motive, which is sincerely stated in explanatory note: if Ukrainian citizens, in particular public servants, are citizens of other states, it "creates certain risks for the national security of Ukraine." These risks are not specified in the accompanying documents.

Related: Ukraine declared war on dual citizenship

First, most of the influential people in Ukraine have several passports, not because they do not like their lovely Motherland, but because they do not like its prisons. The experience of Lazarenko with his Panamanian passport taught both politicians and officials who commit something illegal, to have a passport of another state. And it will help to easily escape responsibility. Without such a passport, it will be difficult to escape, even in terms of a visa-free regime. Therefore, they are not afraid of accusations, trials, prosecutors, and judiciary as such.

Secondly, the passport creates some "hiding place" and hypothetical opportunities for other states to influence the situation in Ukraine, while limiting our authority in monitoring the state of affairs in the country. A simple example is the fight against corruption. The US and other partners are calling for the effectiveness of the struggle, but a recent example of Roman Nasirov shows how difficult it is to practically sentence an official with several passports.

Related: Groysman expects prompt reaction on Sberbank accepting “DPR”, “LPR” passports

Holding colossal assets and the ability to influence not only the country's top leadership, but also the position of Ukraine's external partners, the oligarchs feel almost unpunished and do not always coordinate their interests with state ones. Rather vice versa, state ones with their own. As a result, anyone from them can swing the situation in Ukraine without fear of trial. In 2014, Igor Kolomoisky, as head of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration, openly admitted the that he has passports of Israel and Cyprus. In his opinion, the laws of Ukraine banned double, but not triple citizenship.

Having one citizenship, it is already worth thinking about the responsibility for what was done.

So what is in the document?

CEC deputy chairman, Andriy Magera, believes that the president's draft approves art. 4 "Basic provisions" of the Constitution of Ukraine at the legislative level. This article enshrines the principle of a single citizenship. "If the Ukrainian has the intention to voluntarily obtain foreign citizenship, then he/she must understand the further prospect of ending the citizenship of Ukraine on the basis of the decree of the President of Ukraine through loss... In my deep conviction, the principle laid down by the Constitution of Ukraine concerning this unified citizenship must be in line with the mechanism established by the law to prevent the occurrence of bipatrides in Ukraine."

At the same time, the explanatory note to the President's bill means that the rights of Ukrainian citizens to choose their citizenship are not limited, since such an opportunity is guaranteed by the law. The mechanism proposed by the president in an urgent bill, it resembles a dense sieve: it specifies the grounds for the loss of Ukrainian.

Related: Recognition of LNR-DNR passports may negatively affect liberation of hostages

So, you can lose Ukrainian passport if you get another citizenship. In this case, you are considered a person who expressed a desire to change citizenship and has given a consent to it. The same threat might be faced by those who have used the passport of another state when crossing the border of Ukraine (both for departure and for entry).

The question of losing Ukrainian citizenship might arise when the behavior and actions of a citizen of Ukraine testify to the recognition of foreign citizenship and a conscious choice in favor of foreign citizenship. A detailed list of such actions is attached. For example, the use of rights (including electoral) and the fulfillment of obligations provided for the foreign citizenship, confirming information in state registers and official resources of other states, as well as the use of a foreign passport outside Ukraine.

Ukrainian citizenship might be lost because of infringement of rules of its obtaining, especially if false information is submitted.

The project also allows refugees not to return the foreign passports, this will be done by authorized bodies. The refugees should just give the passport where it should go.

Related: "LPR/DPR" passports recognition by Russia is way to freeze conflict, — Kuchma

Many would be in the hardest hit

If the project in the Verkhovna Rada does not cause any special discussions as a whole, its separate positions will be finalized. The thick "sieve" has a lot of holes.

For example, it states that if a citizen of Ukraine had a passport of another state at the time the law came into force, he must return it within six months. Otherwise, such persons risks losing its Ukrainian citizenship. This provision is one of the main risks of the project on passports. Clearly directed against corrupt officials and, probably, separatists and Kremlin agents, the document is not beneficial for simple Ukrainian citizens loyal to the official Kyiv.

It is not a secret that neighboring countries have been granting their passports to Ukrainians in the border areas. Transcarpathia, Odesa and other regions have a relatively high level of foreign certification. People are used to this system, it is convenient for them to cross the border, and they are unlikely welcome this tightening of the legislation. However, we can expect that their high consciousness will prevail.

Related: Recognition of "LNR/DNR" passports will not help to resolve conflict, - Ambassador of Italy

It is much more difficult for the residents of the temporarily occupied territories. The local passports of LPR and DPR are recognized by the Russian Federation, therefore, they have the status of a document. If the law enters into force, Ukrainian citizens in these territories would be deprived of either Ukrainian citizenship or residency of LPR/DPR. In this case, it will be better for them to move to the territories controlled by Ukraine.

Passports issued by the unrecognized administrations of the occupied territories, from the point of view of the Ukrainian legislation, are fake. At the same time, passports of the Russian Federation in Crimea cannot be recognized as such. Hence, our supporters who remain in Crimea will be forced to choose: either become a refugee in Ukraine, or be an official Russian.

What is the output?

For sure, Bankova has foreseen these and other possible consequences of the adoption of the presidential project. Hence, they are ready for it or believe that the ultimate goal justifies the means.

The president will quickly and clearly strengthen his actual influence on Ukrainian politics. Imagine if a politician with a passport of another country falls under investigation in Ukraine, the guarantor can deprive his citizenship of Ukraine by one decree. And then this is no longer a politician, and there is no threat from him.

Related: Ukraine ranks 87 in the rating of citizenship quality

Indirect advantage: it is possible that due to a sharp official reduction in the number of citizens of Ukraine, the deficit of pension fund and volume of social benefits would decrease.

But, when it comes to corruption, the lack of citizenship of another country does not mean that the Ukrainian corrupt officials would abandon their foreign "shelters." What, actually, prevents them from secretly having a second passport and using it in a critical situation?

Related: Nasirov denies British and Hungarian citizenship

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