A reminder about the second passport, if there is any, our officials perceive with feigned surprise and irritation. True, several years ago, the ex-head of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration, Ihor Kolomoisky, broke the circle of this chaste position, declaring his… three passports. He cynically explained that the Constitution of Ukraine does not allow dual citizenship, but not multiple.
MFA supports the idea
In fact, the Law on Local State Administration does not simply prohibit an official to have several passports – this is a direct basis for dismissing him from the post of the head of the RSA. At the same time, everything turned out fine for Mr. Kolomoisky. And why he now cannot set foot on his native land is another topic. When Pavlo Lazarenko’s Panamanian passport made a splash, the subject of Russian and Israeli citizenship of individual officials was raised.
Now, it seems, the topic of dual-plural citizenship is emerging from the underground. Perhaps, the day, when an ordinary Ukrainian will have 2-3 passports is not far off. Actually, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians already have foreign citizenship, but the issue of legalization is frozen. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin is trying to move it on. In February, he stated that the Foreign Ministry is working with individual deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the draft law on dual citizenship, with the exception of Ukrainian-Russian.
The details on the settlement of the issue in domestic legislation, the need for legalization, Hungarian Transcarpathian passports, and foreign experience – in a recent publication from Opinion. While this article is about how realistic is to introduce dual citizenship, how to deal with the diaspora, why the majority of Ukrainian immigrants cannot vote in elections.
“The topic of dual citizenship requires an urgent legislative decision,” Iryna Vereshchuk, the president of the International Center for Baltic-Black Sea Studies, said. “But in the existing political realities, when there is no will and capacity for balanced, consolidated decisions in the Parliament, and this year’s elections do not contribute to finding consensus and more important security issues, it would be advisable to start a dialogue among the experts and analytical circles, to develop two or three versions of the real Law “On Citizenship in Ukraine”. Before the election of a new parliament, it’s important to hold the necessary discussions and debates and then adopt a holistic law. Mr. Klimkin correctly emphasizes the need for discussion, but does not offer anything realistic and effective.”
The opportunity to rejoice with dual citizenship depends not only on the thoughts of the profile minister but primarily on the legislators. The Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hanna Hopko, is convinced: we cannot close our eyes to the fact that many of our citizens have at the same time passports of foreign countries. A separate category is foreigners of Ukrainian origin, who would like to get our passport, but are not ready to renounce citizenship, for example, the United States or Canada.
“The attitude towards the idea of legalizing the dual citizenship is often polar, as evidenced by the content of more than a dozen bills on this topic, registered in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine,” Ms. Hopko explained. “Most of them offer not liberalization, but rather strict measures of the state’s response to the facts of dual citizenship. After all, not only possible advantages but also real threats are associated with it. For example, in which army should a citizen of two states serve? Can a carrier of two passports have access to state secrets? To be a member of the Parliament or a mayor? I think the answers should be given by the following composition of the Parliament after a serious discussion and reaching a consensus, taking into account national interests.”
Diaspora and migrants
In March, Pavlo Klimkin declared on Radio Culture, he supports the dual citizenship for the Ukrainian diaspora. According to the Foreign Minister, Ukraine is losing thousands of people, who could work not only in the Government agencies or business but also in the cultural sphere.
However, it is necessary to distinguish the problem of the diaspora – people born abroad, and migrants -people born in Ukraine, who went abroad and did not interrupt communication with their homeland. It is the need to ensure the constitutional rights of our migrants, who have other citizenship – the question is much more important. This is the position of Violetta Moskalu, the initiator of the Global Ukrainian movement “My Ukraine”.
“Nobody violates anything, and Article 25 of the Constitution states that it is impossible to deprive of citizenship,” Mrs. Violetta said. “From 10 to 20% of Ukraine’s GDP is provided by financial transfers from people, working abroad. That is, the contribution of migrants, working abroad, to the country’s economy is very large. And this is less poverty and unemployment in Ukraine, preventing a social crisis, a stable hryvnia exchange rate. Their money goes to consumption mainly in Ukraine, respectively, the state replenishes its budget.”
Up to 10 million migrants (almost a third of voters) were born in Ukraine and have the Ukrainian passport. Regardless of where they live, temporarily or permanently work or study, their civil and constitutional rights must be ensured by the Ukrainian state. However, migrants abroad do not have their direct representatives in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, they do not vote for the majority deputies in a foreign district.
“There are even 101 polling stations in 72 countries, the capacity of which is sufficient to ensure that no more than 2% of Ukrainian migrants can vote,” Ms. Moskalu continued. “Nobody will put up with this, and we began to monitor how the first round of presidential elections in these unfortunate 101 polling stations will pass, we will record all violations. We demand a simple thing – to introduce already before the Parliamentary elections remote voting by mail abroad as many Western countries do.”
“It is necessary to ensure the rights of people, who have Ukrainian and, possibly, other citizenship,” Violetta Moskalu said. “This category of people, in particular, cannot get the civil service. Ukraine has chosen European integration vector and such discrimination are unacceptable. If a person has violated something, then they should be brought to administrative or criminal justice.
March 14, 19. Oksana Bilozir and a number of other People’s Deputies registered the Bill 10153 “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine, Regarding the Strengthening of State Support for Ukrainians Abroad”. The document provides for the creation of the Ukrainian migrant card by the Migrant Welfare Fund, which will exist by paying their contributions. Discussions have been initiated, but some experts are already concerned that behind the slogans to protect Ukrainians abroad in the draft law are hidden the signs of interference with their rights.
With Russia ‒ no way!
Iryna Suslova, the Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Gender Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on the Protection of Human Rights, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations, emphasized on two options for solving the problem of introducing dual citizenship:
“The first is to introduce its opportunity for Ukrainians. Those representatives of the diaspora, whose countries provide for the possibility of dual citizenship, will be able to obtain Ukrainian passports. Our Committee has already considered the draft law, which proposed to introduce the institution of dual citizenship in Ukraine but did not support it. In addition, in conclusion, the scientific and expert department of the Verkhovna Rada noted: the document contradicts the norms of the Constitution of Ukraine. That is, for this you need to change the Constitution. The second option is to change the legislation so that for every holder of a second passport there is an inevitable responsibility for breaking the law. It should clearly prescribe the rule on the entry and exit from the citizenship of Ukraine and the procedure for its implementation.”
All the talk about the possible liberalization of this issue is stalled at the mention of Russia. Parliamentarians and experts are unambiguous: there can be no talk of dual citizenship with the Russian Federation. But many residents of the Crimea received Russian passports. What to do with those, who already have citizenship of the aggressor country?
“Article 25 of the Constitution of Ukraine prohibits anyone from depriving Ukrainian citizenship,” Hanna Hopko said. “However, this article also prohibits anyone, and deny the right to change citizenship. Obviously, the way out lies in the plane of legislative determination, what actions of a citizen testify to his conscious decision to change the citizenship. As for the occupied Crimea, Ukraine does not recognize Russian passports, issued to residents of the Crimea after the occupation. They are all citizens of Ukraine, and the regulations and documents of the occupation authorities are insignificant.”
“There is no question of getting new dual Ukrainian and Russian citizenship. This is unacceptable during the war!” Oksana Yurynets said. “What to do with people, who already have Ukrainian and Russian passports? The question is in the plane of legislative changes that require additional professional discussion. The only thing that I would especially like to emphasize is that citizens in Crimea, who received Russian passports, remain citizens of Ukraine! We do not recognize the illegal and groundless pieces of paper of the Russian Federation.”
To solve the problem of the nationality of the aggressor state, it is necessary first of all to return the Crimea, to settle the armed conflict in the East. According to Iryna Vereshchuk, it is necessary to adopt the State strategy of de-occupation and reintegration of these territories, providing for the so-called “Procedure for returning citizenship” and setting clear rules and legal responsibility for their violation.
“Even if the law on dual citizenship is adopted, it can hardly be used for the Russian Federation, after all, Moscow will hand out Russian passports to the population of the border regions of Ukraine and then seize those regions, ostensibly on a legal basis, “to protect” Russian citizens,” political scientist Viktor Kaspruk said. “Perhaps for a transitional period, it is advisable to grant dual citizenship to representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora in the West, abstaining from this because of the diaspora in the Russian Federation.”
Many foreigners who easily obtained Ukrainian citizenship did not integrate into our society: they did not learn the state language; they are not interested in culture. According to Viktor Kaspruk, the main requirements for obtaining dual citizenship should be passing an exam on knowledge of the Ukrainian language, customs, and culture of our people.
Do you really need it?
Opinion found out about the attitude of the well-known Ukrainians to dual citizenship.
Mykola Nesenyuk, journalist:
“I personally do not need dual citizenship. But for other citizens of Ukraine, this may be relevant. Especially since, in fact, it already exists – both dual and multiple… Our government is smart – it wants to legitimize what already exists.”
Diana Dutsyk, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Institute of Media and Communication:
“I never thought about second citizenship. At one time, I did not take the opportunity to stay in one of the European countries, because I believed that Ukraine needs me more. Dual citizenship is an extremely painful question: on the one hand, we have an unprecedentedly large number of people, who left for work, and on the other, an aggressor country that can use our liberal approach to this issue. We need a balanced and competent discussion without politicking to find the right solutions.”
Eskender Bariyev, Head of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center:
“In accordance with Article 3 of the Law “On Foreign Ukrainians”, foreigners and stateless persons of Ukrainian ethnic origin, or origin from Ukraine, who have reached the age of 16, and are not citizens of Ukraine have the right to receive the status and certificate of foreign Ukrainian. Representatives of the Crimean Tatar diaspora from Turkey are trying to get this status because their ancestors are from the Crimea – the territory of modern Ukraine. As far as we know, two representatives received such status. Providing opportunities for Ukrainian citizenship to representatives, who are of Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar ethnic origin, or origin from Ukraine is an important process of strengthening Ukraine’s ties with representatives of the multi-million diaspora, preserving their cultural identity, and motivating them to positive actions for our state. And, of course, when representatives of our diaspora will feel like full-fledged citizens of their country of origin, the more actively they will defend the interests of our state in their countries of residence.”
Maryna Grymych, writer, anthropologist:
“I do not have a definitive answer. On the one hand, many citizens of Ukraine have dual citizenship de facto. That is, it would be good to legitimize the generally accepted situation, not to just shamefully turn the blind eye. On the other, his is not the right time, it can be used not in favor of Ukraine. I have no need for that.”
Text by Viktor Tsvilikhovsky