President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. We have already discussed the subject I wanted to raise at our meeting today.
As you know, during my visit to Ukraine, the Ukrainian leadership – the President and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich – and also Ukrainian citizens, during the live television broadcast, repeatedly raised the issue of dual Russian-Ukrainian citizenship.
We have a special relationship with the Republic of Belarus in this respect, but we do not have the same kind of relations with Ukraine. I know that there are various opinions within our expert community on this issue and I know that this is a complicated matter.
But at the same time, I think that, given the special relation between our two countries that developed over hundreds of years when our peoples lived within a unified state, given the close ethnic, religious, cultural and even linguistic ties that our peoples share, the huge number of family ties and mixed marriages, given the economic demands and the close cooperation that has emerged between many of our companies over recent years and decades, given all the benefits in the broadest sense that our two countries stand to gain, I think that we should react to this signal from Ukraine and come back to this question once again.
Of course, we can come to a decision on this issue only if we are sure that public opinion in both Russia and Ukraine is overwhelmingly in favour of this proposal and is willing to fight to ensure it goes ahead.
I therefore have two requests to make. First, set out your own position on this matter, and second, begin consultations with your colleagues in Ukraine, with the Ukrainian parliament.
Boris Gryzlov: We discussed this yesterday in the State Duma because during discussions on the agenda the proposal was made to request that the Ministry of Internal Affairs inform us on what possibilities exist regarding the dual citizenship issue. It was one of the rare moments when the State Duma voted unanimously, so what comes out of yesterday’s discussions is that the Duma thinks it not only possible but also necessary to introduce dual citizenship with Ukraine, with whom we have such close ties.
Sergei Mironov: When the Federation Council and the Ukrainian parliament organised a special conference of the Russian and Ukrainian border regions in Kharkov, this was precisely the subject we discussed and the representatives from both countries unanimously supported the idea. It was discussed as a sort of dream, a distant ambition, but when this idea was raised again at the Congress of the Ukrainian community in Russia, in the Hall of Columns, everyone started applauding. We know just how close are the ties between us, how much like family we really are. We know how important the issue is, how many Ukrainians live in Russia and how much exchange goes on. I think it would be fitting to take a decision of principle on the matter, all the more so as the State Duma has already started to discuss it. And the Federation Council would support it.
Vladimir Putin: I just want to repeat that, as you know, this time the signal is coming from Ukraine itself. The issue will require a lot of serious work, both here and in Ukraine. So, I would ask you to get in touch with your Ukrainian colleagues next week and begin work at the professional level.
I think it would also be right for us to organise broad discussion of the question here in Russia.
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PRESS CONFERENCE BY SERGEI MIRONOV AND BORIS GRYZLOV FOLLOWING THEIR MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENT
Sergei Mironov: The question of Russian-Ukrainian dual citizenship concerns both our peoples and the first thing to do is to ask our peoples, our colleagues, partners and brothers in Ukraine, whether they want this. In my estimation as Chairman of the Federation Council, the chamber representing the regions, the Russian public would not be against such a dual citizenship policy. Now we need to find out the views of our Ukrainian colleagues. We need to work out such issues as military service, for example. If you are a citizen of just one state, then you serve in that state’s armed forces, but if you are a citizen of two states, whose armed forces do you serve in? I believe it should be made very clear that you serve in the armed forces of the state where you are permanently resident. This should be very clearly stated in the event that the relevant legislation is adopted.
Boris Gryzlov: There was discussion in the State Duma yesterday regarding the parliamentary request made to Interior Minister Nurgaliyev concerning the legislative changes that would be needed to be made if dual Russian-Ukrainian citizenship is introduced. What should be noted is that all the deputies voted in favour of this parliamentary request, because we are happy to extend a hand in friendship to Ukraine and to see Ukraine extend a hand in friendship to us. The vote was a rare moment in the Duma because all 419 deputies who took part in the vote voted in favour of the parliamentary request.
This agreement, this international treaty, should undoubtedly be drawn up. Our legal specialists, international law experts, will have to work very carefully here, because there are a great many nuances to take into account. This concerns military service, for example, and also electoral rights. Where can citizens take part in elections if they hold dual citizenship? Probably in the place where they live. This is one proposal, but the question requires thorough study. I hope that this work will be both thorough and rapid, because this issue is important for the peoples of both countries.
Question: Who will be entitled to obtain this dual citizenship? Will anyone be entitled, or will there be certain criteria?
Boris Gryzlov: According to the current law, you can obtain Russian citizenship only if you have no other citizenship. We are proposing to make an exception for Ukraine and accord Russian citizenship to people who have Ukrainian citizenship. That is what this issue is about. If this law is drafted and passed, a Ukrainian citizen will be able to obtain Russian citizenship. We are looking at the law in broad terms at the moment. Our international law specialists will be able to examine it on the Ukrainian side and the Russian side. The principle issue is that any Ukrainian citizen will be able to obtain Russian citizenship.