President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
I just discussed the question of possibly introducing Russian-Ukrainian dual citizenship with the chairmen of both houses of the Federal Assembly. This is a question for the near future, but it is still future.
What is the situation with the questions we have to deal with today? I mean the registration term for Ukrainian citizens on Russian territory. That is the first question.
Second, what documents will be requested from Ukrainian citizens wanting to cross the border into Russia from January 1, 2005?
Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev: Following your instructions and on the basis of the agreements reached during your visit to Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Federal Migration Service and the Foreign Ministry have examined the issue of changing the registration rules for Ukrainian citizens in the Russian Federation on a reciprocal basis.
Given that Ukraine does not have migration commitments to third countries that could detriment Russia’s interests, our experts have declared it possible to increase the time Ukrainian citizens can spend in the Russian Federation without registration to 90 days provided they have a migration card with a border checkpoint stamp. A protocol was signed with Ukraine yesterday, and the basic document comes into force on November 1.
The Russian and Ukrainian sides have also agreed that after Januray 1, 2005 Russian and Ukrainian citizens will be able to cross the border using their internal passports as it was the case before that date.
We believe that these decisions will help further strengthen the friendly relations between Russia and Ukraine and increase observance of the legal rights of the citizens of both our countries.
Vladimir Putin: In this respect I would like to draw your attention to one point. I think this is a correct and justified decision, but we should keep in mind that our own citizens must not end up having worse conditions than those for citizens of foreign countries. This includes the question of registration for Russian citizens when moving from one place to another within the Russian Federation.
We introduced these tougher registration rules in the first place in order to fight crime more effectively. But the experience of the most serious recent crimes and an analysis of how the latest, most ruthless, terrorist acts were organised, show us that criminals find it quite easy to get around these obstacles and it is honest and law abiding citizens who end up facing problems.
Rather than taking tougher administrative measures to control registration of people’s movements, we should be focusing on improving and bringing order to the law enforcement agencies’ work. We need to continue the work that has already been going on in your ministry and in some of the other ministries of late. We know how actively the internal security departments are working, and this should continue, so that there be order within the organisations.
As for ordinary citizens, I repeat, we should not create new obstacles for them. People should feel comfortable in their own country.
Coming back now to Ukraine, I would ask the Foreign Minister to comment on the decisions and their implementation.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: Regarding registration and the 90-day rule, this will take effect starting from November 1. As for using internal passports to cross the border, this is still being decided. Agreement has already been reached on this matter through an exchange of notes between the two countries’ foreign ministries. Starting from January 1, 2005, citizens of both countries will be able to use their internal passports as one of the accepted documents enabling them to cross the border.