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Plan To Ease The Citizenship Grant For All Ukrainians, Claims Russian President Vladimir Putin

Critics point to other frozen conflicts in former Soviet republics where Russia has granted citizenship to residents of separatist-held territory in order to choreograph demographic changes over time and justify future military operations.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking to the media following the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, April 27, 2019. VOA

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his administration is considering a plan to ease the process of granting Russian citizenship to all Ukrainians, not only those in war-torn parts of eastern Ukraine.

Putin made the remark on April 27 at an infrastructure development summit in Beijing.

On April 24, Putin announced a presidential decree that eases the process of granting Russian citizenship to anyone living in parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions that are under the control of Russia-backed separatists.

That decree drew a swift and angry response from Kyiv, the United States, Britain, the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the international organization tasked with monitoring compliance with the 2015 Minsk agreements on eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Putin’s decree “is actually about the Kremlin’s preparations for the next step of aggression against our state – the annexation of the Ukrainian Donbas or the creation of a Russian enclave in Ukraine.”

FILE - Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko delivers a televised address after Russian authorities moved to simplify the process of obtaining Russian citizenship for Ukrainians living in areas controlled by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, in Kyiv, April 24, 2019.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko delivers a televised address after Russian authorities moved to simplify the process of obtaining Russian citizenship for Ukrainians living in areas controlled by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, in Kyiv, April 24, 2019. VOA

The OSCE said in a statement on April 25 that its chairmanship “believes that this unilateral measure could undermine the efforts for a peaceful resolution of the crisis in and around Ukraine.”

It said it was reiterating its “call for a sustainable, full and permanent cease-fire and its firm support for the work of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, which plays an essential role in reducing tensions on the ground, and in fostering peace, stability and security.”

In a joint statement on April 25, France and Germany – the European guarantors of the Minsk agreements – said Putin’s decree “goes against the spirit and aims” of the Minsk process, which aims to establish a stable cease-fire in the conflict in parts of eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and then proceed to a political settlement.

“This is the opposite of the urgently necessary contribution toward deescalation,” the statement said.

European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said the decree was “another attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty by Russia.”

“We expect Russia to refrain from actions that are against the Minsk agreements and impede the full reintegration of the nongovernment-controlled areas into Ukraine,” she said.

Ukraine’s foreign minister called Putin’s decree a form of “aggression and interference” in Kyiv’s affairs, while a Western diplomat told RFE/RL it was a “highly provocative step” that would undermine the situation in the war-ravaged region known as the Donbas.

The U.S. State Department also criticized Russia’s move, saying Moscow “through this highly provocative action, is intensifying its assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

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Then, when Russia went to war against Georgia in August 2008, the Kremlin justified its deployment of Russian military forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia by saying those forces were needed to protect Russia citizens in the separatist regions. Pixabay

Critics point to other frozen conflicts in former Soviet republics where Russia has granted citizenship to residents of separatist-held territory in order to choreograph demographic changes over time and justify future military operations.

In 2002, the Kremlin began granting Russian citizenship to residents of Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia – a policy that helped raise the number of Russian passport holders there from about 20 percent to more than 85 percent of the population.

Then, when Russia went to war against Georgia in August 2008, the Kremlin justified its deployment of Russian military forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia by saying those forces were needed to protect Russia citizens in the separatist regions.

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Russian media reports say Russia also has issued its passports to nearly half of the residents of Moldova’s Moscow-backed breakaway region of Transdniester.

That policy has raised concerns in Chisinau that the Kremlin may use a similar argument of defending its citizens in order to justify future Russian military operations in Transdniester. (VOA)

Next Story

Russia Accuses Facebook, Google of Election Interference

“This can be considered foreign meddling into Russia’s state sovereignty and interference with the country’s democratic process,” the watchdog said in a statement

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Corporate, America, Climate Change
FILE - In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook's developer conference in San Jose, Calif. The Boston-based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy announced in May that Facebook is building a… VOA

Many materials published on Facebook and Google resources can be considered interference in Russia’s internal affairs, said an official of the Russian Central Election Commission.

On Sunday, municipal and regional elections were held across Russia, with a total of 22 administrative centres electing city parliaments, and three regional capitals electing heads of municipalities, Sputnik news agency reported.

“Much of what is published there can be attributed to those materials that directly affect a person who is making a choice,” said Nikolai Bulayev, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Central Election Commission.

“If there is an influence, I’m sure that this can be considered as interference in internal affairs,” Bulayev told reporters.

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FILE – A woman walks past the logo for Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2018. VOA

On the day of the elections, Russia’s communication watchdog, Roskomnadzor, said that it had determined that several US Internet giants — Google, Facebook and Youtube — had featured politically charged advertisements on their platforms, which constituted foreign meddling in Russia’s electoral procedures.

“After monitoring various media platforms on the day of the elections, it has been determined that Google’s search engine, the Facebook social media platform and Youtube’s video hosting service featured political advertisements.

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“This can be considered foreign meddling into Russia’s state sovereignty and interference with the country’s democratic process,” the watchdog said in a statement.

The Russian parliamentary upper house’s Commission on Protecting State Sovereignty will look into possible foreign meddling in the country’s local elections in the second half of September, the commission’s chairman Andrei Klimov said on Sunday. (IANS)