Friday, July 11, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Crimean Resistance to Giving Up Ukrainian Citizenship Seen Forcing Moscow to Make Concessions

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 11 – Moscow’s “Nezavisimaya gazeta” is reporting today that resistance among officials in Russian-occupied Crimea to giving up Ukrainian citizenship has led the Russian labor ministry to seek a delay until the beginning of next year of a requirement announced in April that all officials on the peninsula do so or lose their positions.


            According to the paper’s Aleksandra Samarina, the idea of extending the deadline has been under consideration for some time because of resistance among Crimean officials to yielding on this issue, and she says “experts are certain” that even with a delay, the problem won’t be solved (


            The situation is sufficiently serious, she implies, that the Duma will reconvene in special session at the end of July in order to approve the legislation necessary for this extension.  The likelihood of such a session, Samarina continues, is suggested by the fact that Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin has suggested that Duma members should not travel abroad before that time.


            Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko has issued the same suggestion to members of the upper house, although in both cases, the “Nezavisimaya gazeta” journalist says all this may have to do with fears about the risk that Russian parliamentarians might face in the event of a new round of sanctions.


            To clear the Russian parliament, the proposed law will require super majorities in both houses. But it is likely to go through and be signed into law because otherwise a significant number of officials in Russian-occupied Crimea will either have to be dismissed or allowed to continue to work in violation of Russian law.


            Aleksey Mukhin, head of the Moscow Center for Political Information, told “Nezavisimaya” that “not all officials in Crimea rea ready to give up Ukrainian citizenship because they have definite obligations before their families. They cannot immediately break their ties” with Ukrainian institutions.


            Ilya Shablinsky, a constitutional law specialist at the Higher School of Economics, said he believes that dual citizenship should not be a barrier for officials but noted that Russia had decided that it was. Many Crimeans had told him, he said, that “they do not want to give up their Ukrainian citizenship” because they may want to leave at some point.


            And Boris Makarenko, head of the Center for Political Technologies, added that resistance is likely to be so prolonged that the time limit will be extended “several time” more in the future.  The authorities clearly like having such rules on the books because it forces their subordinates to demonstrate their loyalty.


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