The Kremlin’s comment on the possible reception of citizenship by Yanukovych and his associates did not make the situation any clearer, but only served to reinforce the possibility of it having been true. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that there would be no reaction to Kyiv’s claim regarding Yanukovych’s Russian citizenship.
Live on Echo Moskvi radio Peskov also reminded that there had been “an order by the President (Putin), wherein he (Yanukovych) was given protection by the Russian state.”
Russian political expert Stanislav Belkovsky considers the behavior of the Russian government quite easy to explain.
“I think that the Kremlin is not interested in advertising such decisions. Vladimir Putin naturally does not want any responsibility for what Yanukovych had done during his time as President of Ukraine,” Belkovsky noted.
The information that Russian citizenship had been given to the former Ukrainian officials looks more like a rumor, thinks member of the President’s Human Rights Council of Russia Yevgeny Bobrov. According to Russian law, Bobrov says, the reception of citizenship in such a short amount of time is only possible when the individual has provided special services to the Russian Federation.
“And they have to live in Russia with an approval of residency on general terms. The term of residency may be shortened and the President may grant citizenship. The according Ministry proposes it to the President and he decides on the issue. In each case it is necessary to be legal on Russian territory for the issue to be solved. I think they are just rumors. Because it is very improbable that Yanukovych has such special merits,” noted the human rights advocate to Radio Liberty.
The logic of the Russian government
Political expert Stanislav Belkovsky does not deny the possibility that according to the Russian government, Yanukovych has “special merits.” And therefore Belkovsky assumes that the topic of Russian citizenship is not as ghostly as it would seem to Yanukovych and his associates.
“I think it is quite possible, because Yanukovych and his team are big investors into the Russian economy. They export billions of dollars from Ukraine. And according to the logic of the current Russian government, they have full rights to citizenship. Besides, I see no countries which would give these people shelter now. After what they did in Ukraine and after the revolution in February 2014,” Belkovsky explains.
It has been reported earlier that the former Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktor Pshonka had received Russian citizenship. Back in June Deutsche Welle cited documentary sources from the European court in Luxembourg, reporting that Pshonka was a citizen of Russia. Pshonka addressed the court hoping the sanctions against him would be lifted.
As to Azarov, he had been suspected of receiving Austrian citizenship before. However, the country’s embassy officially denied this information.
Former Ukrainian President Yanukovych, according to some reports, resides in the elite Podmoskovye village of Barvikha.
In Ukraine, Yanukovych and Pshonka face charges of purposeful mass murder. The former President and Prosecutor General are mentioned in the case of the beating and shooting of peaceful protesters between November 30, 2013 and February 22, 2014.
In February the Kyiv government said it would see Yanukovych in international court.