More than 164,000 Ukrainians living in Russia-occupied territories in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, have already received Russian passports.
This was reported by the East Human Rights Group on Facebook on January 25.
"According to our sources in the certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as our employees (monitors) in the areas, 164,340 citizens of Ukraine have received passports of the Russian Federation issued via the expedited procedure," it said.
In particular, 68,300 Russian passports were issued in the occupied part of Luhansk region and 95,930 passports in the occupied part of Donetsk region as of November 2020.
"People who live in the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government and registered [there] as internally displaced persons but with Ukrainian passports mentioning their residence registration in the certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions are also given passports of the Russian Federation, however they are handled in a separate line during the registration," the human rights activists explained.
The Migration Service of the Russian Federation in Rostov region records the actual place of residence of persons with such Russian passports.
East Human Rights Group experts believe that this is the way the Russian Federation gets ready for the political destabilization of the situation in Ukraine and escalation of the war in Donbas.
"At least, the Russian Federation will for sure declare about the protection of the rights of its citizens in Ukrainian territory," they said.
Russian passports in Donbas
- In April 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the expedited procedure to issue Russian passports to residents of temporarily occupied Donbas.
- Later, he said Russia could simplify the procedure for obtaining citizenship for all Ukrainians, and not just for those who live in the occupied districts of eastern Ukraine.
- Two centers for issuing Russian passports to residents of the occupied districts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions were opened in Russia's Rostov region.
- The Kremlin claims Russian passports are issued to residents of the temporarily occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions because "ethnic Russians live there," and Russia will continue to protect them.
- Last year, Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers expanded the list of Russian passports that are not recognized by the Ukrainian side.