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Russia could grant citizenship to nearly a million Ukrainians living in the occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

That's according to deputy chair of the State Duma's Committee on CIS affairs and Eurasian integration and contacts with compatriots, Viktor Vodolatsky, TASS reported.

Over 500,000 local residents have already obtained their Russian IDs, MP claims.

Read alsoMFA Ukraine condemns Putin's decree on expedited naturalization of Ukrainians in Donbas"Today, 538,000 people living in the territory of Donbas are citizens of the Russian Federation. According to the current forecasts and statements, by the end of this year, up to 1 million Donbas residents will have become Russian citizens," said Vodolatsky.

The lawmaker went on to promote the Kremlin's propaganda narrative claiming it is statements by Ukraine authorities of their intentions to "restore order by force" in the "southeast" of the country that drive local residents to get Russian passports. This way, the deputy hinted at Russia's national strategy goal to protect Russian citizens and Russian speakers abroad.

The legislator also claimed that to date, a system has been enhanced of interaction between Russian government agencies and "authorities" in the occupied territories.

Background

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 24, 2019, signed a decree on a simplified procedure for granting Russian citizenship to residents of Russia-occupied districts of Ukraine's east.
  • On May 1, Putin signed another decree under which more categories of Ukrainian citizens are able to obtain Russian citizenship with the use of the simplified procedure, in particular, these are citizens of Ukraine who do not have citizenship of another state, as well as stateless persons who were born and permanently resided in Crimea and left the peninsula before March 18, 2014, as well as their children, spouses, and parents.
  • East Human Rights Protection Group in November 2020 said Russia had issued over 164,000 Russian passports in the occupied areas of Donbas by the streamlined procedure.
  • Ukraine has condemned Russia's move to ensure expedited naturalization of Ukrainians as part of hybrid warfare and encroachment on national sovereignty.
  • The Cabinet of Ministers has extended the list of Russian passports that are not recognized by Ukrainian authorities.
  • Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, commenting on Russia's illegal passportization of Ukrainian citizens in Crimea and parts of Donbas said people are forced to obtain "their Ausweis [an allusion to an ID issued by Nazi Germany's authorities to local residents during the German occupation of Ukraine in 1941-1944] that enable them to somehow get by in that territory."