Russia must provide Russian citizenship by simplified procedure to its fellow nationals among citizens of Ukraine not asking to abandon Ukrainian citizenship and move to Russia. Such opinion was expressed by director of CIS Institute in Russia Konstantin Zatulin during the parliamentary hearings on legislative improvement of contact with fellow national living abroad.

"Lawmakers demand that those who want to obtain Russian citizenship by simplified procedure renounce the citizenship of the country of living. I believe such demands are inexpedient. For me it is important that they are citizens of Russia even if they stay and live in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, etc.," Zatuin said.

According to him, such policy will help to save these people from assimilation and to establish close contact between them and Russia. He noted that according to the All-Soviet Union census of 1989, there were 12 million Russians living in Ukraine, while according to the first and only census of independent Ukraine in 2002, there were only 7 million. According to Zatulin, these people did not return to Russia, but "dissolved" in Ukraine, having registered themselves as Ukrainians, because Ukrainian state urges to do so.

"What, are we supposed to be happy that the number of our fellow nationals decreases?" Zatulin said. He is convinced that the demand to renounce the citizenship of the country of living impedes people to apply for Russian citizenship. 

"In those countries I named people cannot renounce the citizenship. Thus, here in Russia, in our Constitution we should not ask them to do so. We have plenty of people who have double or even triple citizenship and do just fine," Zatulin added.

In this respect, ForUm has asked experts, MPs, political scientists and lawyers why the question of double citizenships arises again and what advantages or risks it brings.

Kost' Bondarenko, chairman of the Institute of Ukrainian politics:

- Konstantin Zatulin has made many statements, not supported by official sources, and this is the case this time, I believe. Double citizenship can be granted only if it is not prohibited by the law of the country a person applying for Russian citizenship officially lives and is registered as a citizen. For example, in Israel double citizenship is permitted, so there are no problems with obtaining Russian citizenship as the second one. In Ukraine, however, double citizenship is prohibited, thus Zatulin's statement merely urges Russia to violate international treaties and obligations and Ukrainian citizens to violate the legislation.

Moreover, what's the point of obtaining Russian citizenship? I would understand when people aply for foreign citizenship to simplify visa barrier or certain business procedures, for example. I understand when people apply for Israeli, American or European citizenship. Obviously, there are certain advantages there. But I do not understand what advantages we are talking about in case of obtaining Russian citizenship.

If a Ukrainian citizen obtains Russian citizenship remaining Ukrainian citizen at the same time, minimum what he faces is a fine for violation of the legislation.

Ihor Geller, immigration lawyer:

- The question is why Zatulin speaks only about Ukraine, and not about Canada or US, where there are large Russian Diasporas. Why does not he offer Russian passports to American citizens with Russian origins, whose ancestors fled the October revolution? Why does not he remember about Hungary or Bulgaria, where Russians like to buy real estate? In my opinion, his statement is an interference with internal affairs of Ukraine.

I want to remind that neither Ukraine nor Russia recognizes double citizenship. In theory, a person who wants to obtain Russian citizenship, must first renounce the Ukrainian one and apply to the Ukrainian consulate in Russia to provide documents proving Russia is ready to accept him as a citizen. Then the Ukrainian side must control all the documents and check legal status, penal records, loan obligations, etc.  If the person is clean, Ukraine grants permission to renounce the citizenship and then the process of obtaining Russian citizenship starts.

However, in practice Ukrainian citizens who want to get Russian passport, simply come to the immigration service of Russia and write an application. That's it. From that moment Russia considers them Russian citizens and Ukrainian authorities do not even know that certain Ivanov has got the second citizenship. As you can see, the procedure cannot be more simplified. 

Mykhailo Pogrebinski, political scientist and strategist:

- It is a usual international practice. Some countries demand to renounce another citizenship to obtain theirs, other countries recognize double citizenship, like Israel for example. As far as I know, many European countries also accept double citizenship.

But I want to point out that despite the fact that Ukrainian citizen has some other citizenship, Ukraine continue consider him as a citizen of Ukraine, meaning he can be summoned to service in the army or bear responsibility according to the laws of Ukraine.

Ukraine recognizes only single citizenship. There is a symbolic meaning in such practice, as it is believed that double or triple citizenship brings double or triple loyalty, meaning a person becomes loyal not only to Ukraine, but to other states as well. However, it was important when the world was divided into fighting camps. Now there is peace, but still a person with double citizenship may not be given access to some information, considered secret or of national importance. And I accept it as a fair measure, and the person with double citizenship must report his status. However, to do so we must have relevant legislation, which we do not have for now.

Taras Berezovets, political strategist, director of the company on strategic consulting:

- This statement is a personal position of Mr.Zatulin, who lost his post in the parliament and the support of his patrons, namely Yuri Luzhkov, former mayor of Moscow. This statement is aimed not at the Ukrainian audience, but at Russian authorities. Zatulin wants to remind about himself and wants to draw attention of Putin and Medvedev to himself just to get any position in the Foreign Ministry.

It is obvious that Russian authorities will not support such initiative, as they do not want to conflict with Ukraine on this issue.

Volodymyr Yavorivski, head of the parliamentary committee of Ukraine on culture and spirituality, head of the Writers Union of Ukraine:

- It is not Russia rising this question, but Konstantin Zatulin alone. I am sure such statements cannot come from Putin or Medvedev. Zatulin is a known provoker and every time he speaks he wants to mess up Ukrainian-Russian relations.

Zatulin has been announced persona non grata in Ukraine, as he always brings provocative ideas. Our legislation prohibits double citizenship, and Zatulin instigates Ukrainians to violate the law. I know him well, such provocations are his style. Zatulin is blind with hatred for Ukraine.

Taras Chornovil, first deputy head of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs:

- This statement of Zatulin is not the official position of Russia, but a personal promotion action. Russia has been realizing these plans without any sound announcements for quite awhile. The Russian side already gives Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens, especially in Sevastopol (Crimea) and Odessa.

As for the problem itself, the Ukrainian legislation says the law recognizes single citizenship. However, none of the laws directly prohibits double citizenship. Our country is still in the process of formation, and even if our neighbors abandoned territorial claims, some of them hope to set certain control over our territories.

Ukraine should have imposed the ban on double citizenship for a certain period long time ago. Only then we could have talked about criminal responsibility. But for the moment we ignore where our citizens with Russian or Moldavian passports pay taxes or carry out military service. It is like we ignore these obligations. But according to the Constitution, we cannot do otherwise and introduce criminal responsibility. Not with the current legislation.


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