Ukraine's Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Yuriy Hrymchak says that President Volodymyr Zelensky's idea of issuing passports to ethnic Ukrainians living in "friendly powers" should be examined from the legislative point of view and all risks should be assessed.
"I don't think this is an easy issue to deal with. When I hear 'let's [invite] Kuban [the south of Russia, settled by Ukrainians since the end of the 18th century]"... I'll just remind you that officially, if I'm not mistaken, there are several million ethnic Ukrainians living in Russia. But it is another question whether they are Ukrainians," Hrymchak said, according to the Ukrainian news outlet Obozrevatel.
According to him, it is necessary to legislatively approve when, how and on what grounds citizens of other states can obtain Ukrainian citizenship.
"The order given by the president to the Foreign Ministry should be formalized not by way of a certain presidential decree or a government resolution – this should be done legislatively. But the risks that exist today should be assessed," he said.
Commenting on Ukrainians who apply for Russian citizenship, Hrymchak says that some people receive Russian passports, but retain Ukrainian ones. "Although, when one applies for [Russian] citizenship, they demand giving up Ukrainian citizenship – but this is not for sure. I think most people will keep their Ukrainian passport, especially considering visa-free [travel to the European Union]," he said.
As was reported, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order on July 17 that further expands the number of Ukrainian citizens who can apply for fast-track Russian passports. Putin's order in particular included Ukrainian citizens who were registered as permanent residents of government-controlled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions as of April 2014.
In response, Zelensky instructed Ukraine's Foreign Ministry to elaborate a simplified procedure for certain groups to attain Ukrainian citizenship.
Those who suffer human rights violations and constraints on freedom in their home countries, and ethnic Ukrainians "from friendly powers" willing to help Ukraine's development, would be eligible for fast-track passports, Zelensky's office said.