Would Ukraine introduce dual citizenship?

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

Article 4 of the Constitution states that Ukraine has single citizenship, the grounds for the acquisition or loss of which are determined by law
20:45, 20 May 2020

Open source

Even during the inaugural address, Volodymyr Zelensky promised to return the native Ukrainians to their homeland. And it is not only labor migrants but also the descendants of those who traveled to Canada / US / Europe two or three generations ago. The main novel of the law is the opportunity to apply for a Ukrainian passport for those whose ancestors lived on the territory of our state since the end of the 19th century.

In fact, Zelensky wants to legislatively clarify one of the generally accepted world practices. For there are three bases on which foreigners obtain citizenship of other countries: 1) naturalization (a long and complex process, associated with a long period of work in the country or with significant investments in its economy); 2) marriage; 3) the rights of "blood" and "soil".

Related: Dual citizenship should be allowed in Ukraine, - Foreign Minister

Actually, the third paragraph actually comes first in the legislation of any country. But in this case, the question of dual citizenship inevitably arises. After all, before arriving in a historic homeland, a person could live anywhere.

Article 4 of the Constitution states that Ukraine has single citizenship, the grounds for the acquisition or loss of which are determined by law. The law provides, in particular, for the automatic loss of a Ukrainian passport in the event of the voluntary receipt of a residence permit of another country. But a clear mechanism for the deprivation of citizenship procedure is not registered and de facto does not work. Moreover, it directly contradicts the Constitution, which states that a citizen of Ukraine cannot be deprived of citizenship.

At the same time, Article 2 of the Law of Ukraine "On Citizenship" says the following: "If a citizen of Ukraine acquired citizenship of another state or states, then in legal relations with Ukraine he is recognized only as a citizen of Ukraine. If a foreigner acquired citizenship of Ukraine, then in legal relations with Ukraine, he is recognized only as a citizen of Ukraine."

Related: Ukraine's Migration service names purpose of dual citizenship legalization

This should not be regarded as a ban on dual citizenship, since the loss of citizenship does not automatically occur with the acquisition of citizenship of another state: this requires a separate presidential decree. That is, even if a Ukrainian received the citizenship of another state or states, no one will confiscate his Ukrainian passport from him - such is the legal conflict.

There is a sanction for concealing the fact of acquiring citizenship of another country – a fine, which is from 10 to 30 tax-free minimums (that is, from 6 to 20 USD). But "the acts themselves, committed by officials of state authorities or local self-government, entail a fine of 50 to 100 tax-free minimum incomes of citizens (from 30 to 64 UAH)," the amendments to the law "On Citizenship" say, which the parliament adopted in October 2012.

However, the case did not reach the introduction of criminal liability.

Bill No. 2590 does not address dual citizenship. The document is primarily about expanding the circle of people who can apply for a Ukrainian passport. These would be people whose ancestors have Ukrainian roots. Potentially, this might concern millions of descendants of ethnic Ukrainians who at one time left the territory of the state.

But can they keep their first passport? The bill contains a provision on compulsory withdrawal from foreign citizenship for a certain circle of people. For example, the president proposes to include, for example, military personnel contracting with the Armed Forces and refugees and asylum seekers, whose status is confirmed by the Foreign Ministry.

In addition, the Cabinet must develop a list of countries whose residents must take an oath to obtain Ukrainian passport. Clear criteria for the formation of such a list are not defined, however, states that are recognized as aggressors or occupiers cannot be included on the list. That is, Russia, in any case, remains out of the game - at least for now. It should be added that the renunciation of the oath will mean an automatic renunciation of citizenship.

Related: Dual citizenship of Arakhamia: Another deception of new authority to result in scandal

In general, the bill leaves a strange feeling of something unsaid and unfinished. The aim is obvious to legalize bipatrides, avoiding the sensitive topic of dual citizenship. Meanwhile, according to the conclusion of the Main Scientific Expert Office of the Verkhovna Rada, it is impossible to do this without amending the Constitution. If the law is passed, even more citizens will have de facto dual and triple citizenship. Not legalized, but one that the state decided to give up.

Russian Federation use a special scheme to use the citizens who have passports of the Russian Federation, but live in the former Soviet republics. During the tragic events of 2008 in Georgia, when Russian troops entered there, Putin said at a meeting of the Security Council that he was obliged to protect the life and dignity of Russian citizens, wherever they were.

By the way, then, in 2008, experts warned of the threat of mass issuance of Russian passports in Crimea. More than ten years ago - when nothing portended a war with the Russian Federation - 15-20% of Russian citizens lived on the peninsula. Subsequently, their number has increased. It was this trump card that was used by Russia during the annexation of Crimea.

This also applies to the eastern regions of Ukraine. In general, according to unofficial information, about 300,000 citizens of Ukraine have Russian passports. Of these, 167,000 passports were issued in the period from 2014 to 2016 (at least, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry).

Related: Head of Servant of the People faction Arakhamia has dual citizenship, - ex-MP Mosiychuk

In addition to Russia, Romania and Hungary are also “generous” in the distribution of passports to Ukrainian citizens. So far, these countries do not cause us any discomfort, but nothing is done in public policy for nothing. And although it is hard to imagine, hypothetically, these neighbors of ours can also claim (once, in the uncertain future) their part of the “historical territories” - on the sole ground that a certain number of their citizens live there.

Political analyst Kyrylo Sazonov does not understand why the question of expanding the boundaries of Ukrainian citizenship is on the agenda now. In his opinion, two points must be distinguished here. The first is in relation to whom to grant citizenship, and the second is whether to permit the existence of bipatrides.

"If your ancestors have migrated in the nineteenth century, why is it actual today? If a person wants to live and work in Ukraine, she is comfortable here, she recognizes our laws and traditions, then there is no any problem with granting citizenship with her. A completely different problem is dual citizenship. That's what needs to be solved. To make it clear where a person serves in the army pays taxes, where, and what kind of voting rights he has. And if a person from Russia applies for Ukrainian citizenship, then on which side of the hostilities will she take part?" Sazonov states.

Related: Ukraine might allow for dual citizenship: What would it mean for officials and diaspora?

Sazonov urges not to worry about those people who, living in occupied Donbas, will be able to have both Ukrainian and Russian citizenship: they supposedly kept both passports, and calmly go to Ukraine for retirement.

At the same time, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism Bohdan Petrenko stands up for the inhabitants of the occupied territories: “Not all those who received Russian citizenship in occupied Donbas received it voluntarily. This is especially true for people who work in the public sector. But, except for Donbas, we still have the problem of Crimea. Where the Russian occupation authorities insisted on getting their citizenship by the locals, but in fact, it turned out that many have double it there."

Related: Kuleba: Ukrainians from diaspora should obtain dual citizenship

If the whole purpose of Zelensky’s bill was to return migrants, then this is a bad strategy. "Zelensky’s intentions are simply "beautiful" against the backdrop of a recent statement by the World Congress of Ukrainians - the largest organization that represents foreign Ukrainians of all generations, all four waves of emigration - calling on the president to end political repression," says Yevhen Bulavka.



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