The occupying authorities in Ukraine's Donbas have issued 854 Russian passports to civilian residents of Luhansk and Donetsk regions over three months, a report by investigative journalists says.
In particular, 343 passports were issued in Luhansk region, while 511 passports were issued in Donetsk region, according to the Groshi TV program.
A few more thousand passports were issued to Russian-led forces.
The journalists found out from sources among the military that it is more realistic for the able-bodied population to get a Russian passport, while the occupiers do not want to grant citizenship to Ukrainian pensioners.
As UNIAN reported, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on simplified procedures for granting Russian citizenship to residents of Russia-occupied districts of Ukraine's east on April 24, 2019.
On April 29 and 30, two centers for issuing Russian passports to residents of the occupied districts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions opened in Russia's Rostov Oblast.
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, husbands (wives), and parents.
On May 8, Ukraine's government decided to outlaw Russian passports issued to residents of occupied Ukrainian territories, primarily Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
On June 20, Putin said that obtaining Russian citizenship for Ukrainians would be simplified, but it would require a visit to Russia.
Leaders of European Union member states declare their readiness not to recognize Russian passports issued to Ukrainians in Russia-occupied Donbas.
On July 17, Putin extended his decree on simplified procedures for granting Russian citizenship to all residents from Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions.