President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that the Kremlin has been breaching the norms of international law via forced passportization policy that it carries out in Donbas and Crimea. He said so in an interview with Dim TV channel.
"There's just one way you could describe it - Russia is breaking the international law. As a matter of fact, passportization [in Donbas] is no different from that in Crimea. First, you issue passports of the Russian Federation, and then you say "I'm protecting my folks", which is not just Russian-speaking population. They say they protect not only their culture but also "their citizens". That's why this is dangerous. And then elections to [Russia's} State Duma follow this passportization thing. And there you have it - Ukrainians with Russian passports end up in buses, being taken to polling stations and forced to vote. It's a sort of slavery", the president said.
However, Zelensky added, there are certain situations when a person has no other way than to accept the Russian citizenship. He urged fellow Ukrainians not to judge and "treat [the situation] in a sober and wisely manner".
"Sure, I laud and respect the people who managed to avoid passportization and all these "documents" in the non-recognized "republics", keeping their Ukrainian passports. Of course, we are very grateful to you, well done, people! But people are different, situations vary. Some stayed there to look after their relatives, and they need to get the Russian passport or some other ID, to survive there. Some people need a job, and they tell them "You can't get one without a Russian passport", Zelensky said.
He concluded that every single case of the issue of Russian passport to a Ukrainian citizens in occupied Donbas should be evaluated case by case, and there should be no judgment. "(...) we should understand there are various situations, and people can't be divided by passports", Zelensky said.