Statement of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union on threats of the RF Presidential Decree “On defining, for humanitarian purposes, categories of persons entitled to apply for acquiring Russian citizenship in a simplified manner” towards residents of the occupied territories of Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts

On 24 April 2019, the Russian Federation’s President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree setting out which groups of people are for humanitarian reasons entitled to apply for Russian citizenship in a simplified manner. According to the decree, people who permanently reside in certain districts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions have such a right.

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union condemns this decision as it undermines the efforts to resolve the conflict within the Minsk Agreements. At the same time, we would like to draw attention to the fact that such practices have already been applied by the Russia’s authorities in Georgia in 2008, before the beginning of armed aggression, in order to legitimize the military presence there. The RF authorities justify such actions as those aimed “to protect their own citizens living in the territory of Abkhazia and South Ossetia” and contributed to separation of these regions through recognizing their independence.

Accordingly, such actions of Russia will complicate future implementation of the de-occupation policy and will significantly contribute to alienation of inhabitants of these territories from Ukraine. In particular, according to the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine Martin Sajdik, such a move by the Kremlin “could undermine the efforts for a peaceful resolution of the crisis in and around Ukraine”.

It should be noted that on 25 April 2019, a subject-matter extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council was held on the initiative of Ukraine. The majority of the representatives of the Security Council’s member states condemned the RF’s initiative and expressed support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union will continue introducing into domestic legislation the principles of transitional justice with a view to peacefully resolve the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine and to make further reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories of the Eastern Ukraine possible.

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