The first passports have been handed out to the new Russian citizens in Crimea on Wednesday, the head of the Federal Migration Service said.
The treaty of Crimea's accession to Russia "was signed yesterday… And all, who appealed to the Federal Migration Service in the Crimea, will receive their passports. This work has started. Some of the passports were issued today,” said Konstantin Romodanovsky, the head of the Federal Migration Service, as cited by Itar-Tass news agency.
The official did not elaborate on how or on what terms the Crimeans who do not wish to renounce their Ukrainian citizenship will live and work in the peninsula.
However, Romodanovsky said Russia is concerned by symptoms of a growing “humanitarian catastrophe” in Ukraine.
“As a sign, the number of elderly people and children entering Russia has grown twice as big,” he said. He did not give the periods of which he was comparing, or exact figures.
More than that, Russia is worried by the growing number of Ukrainians crossing the Russian border without any clear purpose such as work.
“We shared those concerns with the office management of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. To some extent, our concerns were understood and we began an interaction with the organization,” Romodanovsky stressed.
Also on Wednesday, Vladimir Putin has tasked the Labor Ministry with increasing the pensions of Crimeans to the Russian level as soon as possible, which will see benefits in the peninsula doubling.
“All citizens of Russia must be placed in the same conditions. How you do it is your business. Think it over with State Duma deputies and do it. There must be no delays. Do it as soon as possible,” the president told labor minister Maksim Topilin.
According to Topilin, there are currently 677,000 pensioners in Crimea and Sevastopol, who have been receiving around 1,600 hryvnas (around US$160) from the Ukrainian state.
“This is significantly lower than the average in Russia,” he stressed, adding that the difference in the level of pensions with Ukraine is about two times in Russia’s favor.
The minister assured Putin that delay-free payment of pensions in Crimea and Sevastopol will be provided.
Bringing Crimean benefits to Russia's level “will require a special law” which is currently being developed, Topilin said.
The head of the Federal Migration Service expressed hope that Russia and the UN, together, will be able to find a way to minimize the negative consequences of the unstable situation in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, funds from the Russian budget will be used to help Crimea and Sevastopol solve its economic problems, the country’s finance minister, Anton Siluanov, announced.
"The total deficit on the budget of Sevastopol and Crimea in 2014 is 55 billion roubles (around $1.5 billion),” Siluanov is cited by RIA-Novosti news agency.
The minister specially stressed that the National Welfare Fund won’t be affected as the money for the Crimea will be taken from the unallocated reserve of the Russian budget.
On March 16, Crimea held a referendum, in which over 96 percent of its citizens voted to join Russia. Two days later, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status, became federal objects of the Russian Federation.