The Conflict Zone: forced naturalization by the country-aggressor

For your attention is the fourth episode of the new program of the Black Sea TV Company, prepared together with the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.

Since the beginning of the annexation of the Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014, there are numerous human rights violations in Crimea. One of these violations is forced naturalization of Crimean people by Russia. By these actions, Russia intervened both in private lives of Crimean people and in the Ukraine’s internal affairs. How can citizens protect themselves?

Lawyer of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Daria Svyrydova says that the procedure of automatic acquisition of Russian citizenship is illegal:

‘It is a challenge to international law because the question of compulsory acquisition of citizenship has appeared before the legal community probably for the first time. In most cases, after the seizure of the territory, there is the problem of a deprivation of citizenship of persons or uncertainty of their status in the area. In the Crimea case, there was a different situation – citizenship was imposed… Obtaining a passport has, in fact, no legal consequences; this is not the moment of acquiring citizenship. Still, there are risks for the Crimean people, who do not have Russian passports’.

The expert said that in Russia today there is no effective mechanism for appealing against the forced citizenship.

‘We have clients, who have tried to challenge the compulsory citizenship in Crimea, or even abandon it. There is a client that is trying to renounce Russian citizenship for two years, using the administrative procedure, but cannot do’, said Ms. Svyrydova.

Who are Crimean people today – Ukrainians or Russians?

‘Even according to Russian law, recognition of Crimean people as citizens of Russia is illegal … According to Ukrainian law, any treaty which contradicts to it is considered invalid,’ said a member of the Mejlis Eskender Bariev.

How can citizens protect themselves?

‘Russia, which occupied Crimea, is not a state governed by the rule of law, so speaking about the legal methods to protect the rights of citizens is futile. The only way out is de-occupation of Crimea and the return of the territory within Ukraine’s jurisdiction’, said lawyer Oleh Bereziuk.

Details of this topic are presented in a joint project of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union and the Black Sea TV Company  “The Conflict Zone.” Presenter Oksana Shchyrba were visited by Daria Svyrydova, a lawyer of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Eskender Bariev, a member of the Mejlis, and Maryna Komarova, a volunteer from Crimea.


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