Dispute Over Acceptance of Russian Passports
The Ukrainian Human Rights Commissioner has advised his compatriots in the occupied territories to accept Russian passports if necessary. Kyiv’s deputy head of government contradicts this: Ukrainians are not allowed to cooperate with the occupying forces.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has contradicted the advice of human rights commissioner Dmytro Lubinets that Ukrainians in the occupied territories should accept Russian passports if necessary. “Who said that the Russians would be in the temporarily occupied areas for a long time?” Vereshchuk wrote on Telegram. In her opinion, it is impossible to make Russians out of Ukrainians.
Deportations of Ukrainians from the Russian-controlled areas are also impossible due to the lack of “humanitarian corridors”. The 43-year-old asked Moscow and the International Red Cross to allow a regulated exit to the Ukrainian-controlled area. In addition, the Minister’s recommendations for the people in the occupied territories remained in place. “Don’t accept Russian passports, don’t cooperate with the occupying forces, leave the country if possible, wait for the Ukrainian armed forces,” Vereshchuk said.
Lubinets had previously advised his compatriots in the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine to take Russian citizenship if necessary. “Survival, that’s the main thing,” he said, according to local media reports. The government would react sympathetically to this since naturalisations were under pressure.
Lubinets spoke out “categorically” against criminal prosecution of Ukrainians who had accepted Russian citizenship for “survival”. However, the organisers of the naturalisation process, judged as “collaborators”, are exempt from impunity.
A few days ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree according to which Ukrainians in the areas formally annexed by the Kremlin last October will be considered foreigners from July 1, 2024. Without a residence permit, Ukrainians and other foreigners are threatened with deportation.
After its invasion over 14 months ago, Russia, including the Crimean Peninsula, which was illegally annexed in 2014, now controls almost a fifth of Ukraine’s territory. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced that all areas will be retaken by the end of the year. The start of a long-announced Ukrainian counter-offensive is expected in May.