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Leftist lawmaker promises bill granting Russian citizenship to any willing Ukrainian

Published time: February 27, 2014 10:58
Ukrainian men help pull one another out of a stampede during clashes at rallies held by ethnic Russians and Crimean Tatars near the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol February 26, 2014.(Reuters / Baz Ratner)

Ukrainian men help pull one another out of a stampede during clashes at rallies held by ethnic Russians and Crimean Tatars near the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol February 26, 2014.(Reuters / Baz Ratner)

The head of the center-left Fair Russia party says a bill allowing any Ukrainian citizen Russian citizenship will be submitted to the Lower House in the near future.

A few days back the LDPR party submitted a bill allowing for a simplified citizenship procedure for Ukrainian citizens of Russian descent. We are lodging an initiative that would allow any Ukrainian who wishes to receive Russian citizenship to do so under a simplified procedure,” the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Sergey Mironov as saying at a party conference in Moscow.

The politician also suggested that Russian law enforcement consider giving jobs to former members of Ukrainian Berkut police unit, with possible further citizenship for them. “If any of them find it attractive to work in Russia we should give him a place in our police and other law enforcement structures in accordance with his rank and qualifications,” Mironov stated.

We should not forget for a single minute that there are 7 million Russians in Ukraine according to the official census. I am sure the Russian Federation must not forget that we are responsible for our compatriots, we cannot allow anyone to sneer at our holy sites and threaten the lives of Russian citizens and ethnic Russians who live in Ukraine,” the politician said.

The LDPR bill Mironov referred to was submitted on Monday by MP Ilya Drozdov. The draft prepared by nationalists allows Russian citizenship within six month for applicants who successfully prove their Russian ethnicity (which is determined as having at least one direct ancestor who had Russian citizenship by birth).

When Drozdov presented the motion he emphasized that it came about because of the current political situation in Ukraine.

Last Sunday the Ukrainian parliament voted to repeal the 2012 law “On State Language Policy” and returned Ukrainian as the only official language in the country. Previously, Ukrainian regions could introduce additional official languages spoken by large groups of the population and the Russian speaking East chose Russian. In addition, one of the leaders of the "Maidan" movement, the head of the Freedom Party Oleg Tyagnibok said in the parliament that the use of the Russian language should be criminalized, and all ethnic Russians should be stripped of citizenship and live under the non-citizen status.

The news caused a surge of outrage in East Ukrainian cities and direct calls for succession in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea with eventual clashes between ethnic Russians and supporters of the "Maidan" movement near the office of the regional legislature. Mironov paid a brief visit to Sevastopol in Crimea this week, and there he also promised that his party would try to fast track citizenship for ethnic Russians.

However, one of Russia’s top politicians – the chair of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko said in a television interview on Tuesday that Russia did not doubt that Crimea was part of Ukraine and that the authorities did not support any provocative actions. At the same time she said that “certain moods” on the peninsula had emerged after no one asked its residents’ opinion about the decisions being taken in Kiev.

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