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Pay a fine if you use Ukrainian passport — new rules for Crimeans with double citizenship

Ukrainian passport. Source: DMS
Pay a fine if you use Ukrainian passport — new rules for Crimeans with double citizenship
Edited by: David Kirichenko
Russian occupational authorities in Crimea are fining local residents with both Russian and Ukrainian passports if they use a Ukrainian passport while entering Crimea from mainland Ukraine. Although it was common practice to not recognize Ukrainian passports if one also has a Russian passport, people were not previously fined. Russian passports were handed to Crimeans automatically after Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea.The move is a step to further cement Russia’s control of Crimea by making Russian citizenship compulsory.

In addition, the residents of Crimea can enter Ukraine only one-way now according to Emine Dzheppar, the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. Although the move was introduced as a quarantine measure, it breaks ties between Crimea and Ukraine. In particular, it impedes Crimeans applying to Ukrainian universities.

The “right to one-off departure” from Crimea

On 27 March, the Russian Government authorized more restrictive rules for crossing the administrative border between Crimea and Ukraine, relating to the quarantine. These rules break ties between Crimea and Ukraine.

Russian border guards started notifying people traveling from Crimea to mainland Ukraine that they are granted “the right to one-off departure from the Russian Federation. In case of next attempts to leave the territory of Russian Federation, you will be denied exit.” However, it is still not clear whether all Crimeans receive such notification when leaving the territory of Crimea, Emine Dzheppar admitted in a comment. Official information from the Russian side was not yet available regarding this situation.

A notification that Crimeans receive while leaving Crimea. The border guard reads a notification to a person and the whole process is filmed. “You have the right to a one-off departure from the Russian Federation”, the notification says. Source: Emine Dzheppar’s Facebook page.

The “right to one-off departure from the Russian Federation” has serious implications for Ukrainians living in Crimea. For example, they can no longer apply to Ukrainian universities as well as study there without leaving Crimea and breaking all ties with the peninsula. This new rule won’t be canceled automatically after the end of the quarantine restriction. The Russian government will need to make a separate decision on lifting the measures.

A fine to enter Crimea with a Ukrainian passport

A fine of 2,000 Russian rubles ($30) is applied to those Ukrainian citizens who enter Crimea with Ukrainian passports if they also have Russian passports issued by the occupational authorities in Crimea, according to a statement by the Federal Security Service (FSB).

For example, on 20 June, 2020 a citizen of Ukraine was traveling to Crimea with a Ukrainian passport. As she was a resident of Crimea, she was also issued a Russian passport after the occupation – as everyone was forced to receive one. On the administrative border, the Russian FSB was questioning the woman for 1.5 hours and finally fined her for using a Ukrainian passport instead of a Russian passport, as she pointed out to the Crimean Human Rights group.

The requirement to use ‘passports’ issued by the Russian authorities in Crimea when crossing the administrative border with the occupied Crimea and the refusal to recognize the legal passport of a citizen of Ukraine is one of the forms of coercion to obtain citizenship of the occupying country that is the violation of international humanitarian law, namely article 45 of the Hague Convention of 1907“, – said Oleksandr Siedov, analyst of the Crimean Human Rights group.

At present, Ukraine doesn’t recognize Russian passports issued in Crimea after the occupation. Russia also doesn’t recognize Ukrainian passports of Crimean residents who have obtained Russian passports. Therefore, Crimean residents de-facto face limitations to their freedom of movement.

The policy of compulsory Russian passports in Crimea started in 2014, just after Russia’s occupation.

At first, Russia automatically extended Russian citizenship to all Crimean residents. Only those, who submitted the statement of refusal to accept Russian citizenship didn’t become Russian citizens and didn’t obtain Russian passports. Such an automatic extension of Russian citizenship was a clear violation of the right to citizenship.

Later, including a recent decision from 27 March 2020, Russian and Crimean occupational authorities used various means of discrimination, including fines, to encourage Ukrainian Crimean residents to become Russian citizens.

To obtain Russian citizenship means to become obliged to fulfill the duties of the citizens of Russia and become more defenseless against the persecution of Crimean residents under the laws of Russia.

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Edited by: David Kirichenko
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