The parliament of Ukraine has registered a draft bill on legalization of double citizenship, submitted by non-factional MP Lev Mirimski.

According to the draft bill, citizens of Ukraine have the right to obtain a foreign citizenship preserving Ukrainian at the same time, while foreigners applying for Ukrainian citizenship will be able to keep the passport of their native country. The author of the draft bill believes that the document will be supported by Communists and the Party of Regions, as this issue was included into their election agenda.

According to the current legislation, dual citizenship is an administrative crime and is fined 10-100 personal allowances (UAH 170-1700). The Constitution provides for single citizenship, and the law "On citizenship of Ukraine" obliges to renounce Ukrainian citizenship in case of applying for a foreign one. Foreigners applying for Ukrainian citizenship also have to renounce their nationality.

Unofficially, 5-10% of Ukrainians already have passports of another state. Experts say that it is rather difficult to establish possession of dual citizenship. In turn, Lev Minimski states that dual citizenship will do good for Ukrainians. "About five million Ukrainians work abroad. Many of them apply for foreign citizenship and have to renounce Ukrainian one. Why should the country lose its citizens? The second citizenship can become a guarantee for banking and investment secrecy, as well as a possibility to prove ties with spiritual home, like Russia for Crimeans," the author of the draft bill says. According to him, applying for foreign citizenship Ukrainians will not only preserve Ukrainian passports, but also obligations before our state, including voting, paying taxes and serving in the army.  

ForUm has asked ministers, MPs and experts on how real the perspective of double citizenship is and what possible consequences may be.

Leonid Kozhara, foreign minister of Ukraine:

- The effective law of Ukraine on citizenship 100% meets the requirements of the Council of Europe Conventions and international law. Citizenship law is based on the principle of non-recognition of dual citizenship. There is a specific rule: Ukraine does not prohibit dual citizenship, but it does not recognize it. Though many Ukrainian politicians say there is a ban, Ukraine follows the European principle of non-recognition.

I have not heard about such draft bill, but Ukraine should not encourage dual and multiple citizenship. This creates problems for the state and for the citizens.

Oleksiy Holobutski, deputy director of Agency of simulated events:

- Indeed, the practice of double citizenship exists in many countries, but these are either very strong and powerful states or very weak countries, having no influence. Ukraine is no so small, but at the same time not so powerful to allow dual citizenship. We know the problem of Crimea. There is a certain number of people there, who have not accepted Ukraine's independence, and if they get legal possibility to have the second passport, we will face way more serious problems.

Our MPs often raise questions, which have no importance for the people. Now, what are the problems being discussed in the parliament? The top subject is whether to wear national embroidered shirts or not.  The same thing is about dual citizenship. It is a secondary question, raised with the only purpose - to distract people's attention from global problems.

Mykhailo Pohrebynski, political scientist, director of Kyiv center for political research and conflict resolution studies:

- I support the idea to permit dual citizenship. Criticism we hear about this issue is groundless. I will explain you why. What is double citizenship? It is an opportunity to travel around. A resident of Zakarpattya, for example, has Hungarian passport. This country is a member of the EU, thus this resident gets a possibility to travel around Europe without visas.

It does not mean that Ukraine must pay no attention to a citizen with the second passport. If this person still has Ukrainian citizenship, he must obey Ukrainian laws - to serve in the army, to pay taxes, etc. Ukraine will not lose anything. There may be a conflict in case of war, when a Ukrainian with dual nationality may take another side. But it is not like we are going to be at war any time soon, are we?

Even if the draft bill is not adopted, the discussions on this issue are useful. The discussions make us analyze situations in other countries.

Volodymyr Horbach, political analyst of the Institute of Euro-Atlantic cooperation:

- The Constitution of Ukraine does not provide for dual citizenship, and in this respect the draft bill looks strange.

As for the dual citizenship in general, this practice is quite popular in the world. For Ukraine, though, single citizenship is safer policy. Our country is not that strong and resistant to external influence and threats. Take Russia, for example, which sets a task to bring Ukraine in the sphere of its influence. Russia has published recently the new Concept of foreign policy, which includes reintegration on the territory of CIS. Such ideas put at risk our sovereignty.

Oleh Zarubinski, MP of the Party of Regions:

- In my opinion, this draft bill is premature. Firstly, we cannot simply change the Constitution's position on single citizenship as we see fit. Secondly, the integration process of the Ukrainian people has not finished yet. Thirdly, dual citizenship can cause legal problems, like in what army to serve - Ukrainian or Russian. What if a Ukrainian gets passport of a country, currently at war? Which country has to take care of social payments in this case?

Instead of adoption of dual citizenship, we should focus on liberalization of visa regime with other countries for Ukrainians to travel freely.

Ivan Popesku, MP of the Party of Regions:

- The Constitution of Ukraine provides for single citizenship, however there is no direct prohibition of dual nationality as well. Anyway, Ukraine considers those citizens who have passports of other countries as Ukrainians solely.

Of course, this question must be solved sooner or later. In the course of our European integration process we will have to introduce some changes into the Constitution. However, now it is not impossible, because the parliament is always blocked. 

Andriy Parybiy, faction of Batkivshchyna:

- Currently, it is not a matter of legal regulation of relations, it is a threat to national security
Russia is now handing around its passports...Don't forget what's going on in the border areas with Romania, Hungary, when other states use dual citizenship as a tool for expansion. One of the reasons for the outbreak of hostilities in Georgia was a thesis of the so-called protection of citizens at risk.

The law on the legalization of dual citizenship mustn’t be passed. I think even if it is put to a vote, it will not be accepted. In addition, the Party of Regions will not have many supporters of this bill. At the legislative level, the issue is settled. And, by the way, recently the Parliament has unanimously decided to toughen this issue. The matter concerns a mechanism to identify those, who have dual citizenship, and increased penalties for violating the law.

Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of All-Ukrainian Union Svoboda (Freedom):

- Dual citizenship is a guarantee of the collapse of Ukraine. Ukraine is in a very unstable situation, and dual citizenship will lead to more abuse. You have to understand that even today passports of Russian Federation are distributed in Crimea, the passports of Hungary in Zakarpattia region, the Romanian passports - in Chernivtsi and Odesa regions.

Of course, a man, who wants to have a passport of another country, has every right to have it, but then he has to give up the Ukrainian one. In this regard, there are many questions to the Interior Ministry and the Security Service: why are there many violators of the norm prohibiting dual citizenship in Ukraine? We are strongly against dual citizenship in Ukraine.
Iryna Herashchenko, MP of UDAR party:

- Citizenship issue is determined by the Constitution. A simple draft bill cannot solve this issue. What we need is changes to the Constitution supported by 300 votes minimum.

Our faction stands against dual citizenship, as it is not advantageous for Ukraine at the moment. We should focus on the very passport of Ukraine to make people be proud of their citizenship.


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