From Nezavisimaya gazeta, Feb. 8, 2023, p. 1. Condensed text:

. . . On Feb. 7, the State Duma continued to integrate the new constituent entities of the Russian Federation into the country’s socioeconomic system. A package of draft laws pertaining to the specifics of regulations on pensions and social and medical insurance was approved on first reading.

The government, whose position was presented by Deputy Labor Minister Andrei Pudov, is willing to spend more than 300 billion rubles on 1.7 million new recipients this incomplete year alone. Then spending will only increase – and, from all indications, not at the executive branch’s forecasted rate (i.e., up to roughly 430 billion in 2025). The increase will more likely be a bit higher, because under another bill that the State Duma also approved on first reading, a far greater number of former Ukrainians will be supported from Russia’s [federal] budget.

At the same meeting, the deputies combined the government’s social development plans for the new regions – i.e., the obvious carrots – with an impressive stick. Future Russian citizens are essentially being told to accept their status as a special population group that the state does not yet fully trust. The bill “On features of the legal status of Russian nationals who have Ukrainian citizenship” creates a mechanism for security and law-enforcement agencies to constantly gauge the level of their loyalty to their new fatherland.

As NG reported earlier, this initiative, which was signed by representatives of four out of the Duma’s five factions, is clearly linked to the basic law on Russian citizenship. President Vladimir Putin himself proposed that the State Duma adopt [this law], but then he singlehandedly put it on ice: The document is now back in parliament to be reworked into a tougher version. Meanwhile, disfranchisement regulations are being tightened for those who have acquired [Russian] citizenship voluntarily, not by birthright. This is precisely what residents of the [self-proclaimed] Donetsk/Lugansk people’s republics (DPR/LPR), [the Russian-controlled parts of] Zaporozhye and Kherson Provinces, as well as other Ukrainian regions, are doing right now [i.e., voluntarily acquiring Russian citizenship].

The rationale behind the Duma’s initiative is precisely to make it easier for everyone to choose between [Russian and Ukrainian] passports. Ukraine already used to deny requests to renounce citizenship, and since the start of the special [military] operation, it has completely stopped responding to such requests. “In the current political situation, Russian citizens who also have Ukrainian citizenship are deprived of the opportunity to renounce Ukrainian citizenship for reasons beyond their control. At the same time, Ukrainian citizenship prevents such Russian citizens from enjoying their rights to be employed by state and municipal bodies; to hold state and municipal posts; to engage in professional activities in certain economic sectors; to study at educational institutions that provide students access to state secrets, etc.,” wrote the thoughtful deputies in an explanatory note.

According to official statistics, “from the start of 2021 to September 2022, 636,508 Ukrainian citizens were granted Russian citizenship,” which was largely a result of a simplified procedure that was introduced for them a couple of years ago. However, the deputies ventured to reveal a state secret that has in effect been an open secret since Russia annexed the Crimea: Most people leaving Ukrainian jurisdiction keep their [Ukrainian] passports with a trident [on the cover] just in case. . . . The explanatory note formulates this purportedly secret information as follows: “Furthermore, a significant number of former DPR/LPR citizens who were granted Russian citizenship during this period also have Ukrainian citizenship. The number of Russian citizens who have Ukrainian citizenship has also significantly increased following the incorporation of the DPR/LPR and Kherson and Zaporozhye Provinces into Russia and the formation of new constituent entities of the Russian Federation.”

However, none of these people, including Crimeans, will have to redo the notification process – i.e., to notify Internal Affairs Ministry agencies that they have renounced their Ukrainian citizenship. They have been receiving [Russian] passports with a two-headed eagle [on the cover] automatically, as it were. When the law goes into effect – this coming fall – this procedure will be followed by the newest ex-Ukrainians, who will not be required to provide any proof that they have broken with their former motherland. At the same time, the bill makes it clear that the second part of the scheme, designed to ensure that this category of people act in good faith, will apply to some residents of the Donetsk Basin and Tavria [Zaporozhye and Kherson Provinces] and maybe even the [Crimean] peninsula after all. Especially those who take advantage of the fact that restrictions have been lifted and join the civil service or security and law-enforcement agencies or be elected deputies [of a legislative body] at some level or other or, for instance, get a job in the defense industry.

As for the bill’s loyalty control mechanisms, they are astoundingly tough. “From the day such citizens file the said petition, they undertake to refrain from exercising rights and meeting obligations as Ukrainian citizens, including from receiving and using a Ukrainian passport and other documents certifying [their] Ukrainian citizenship or containing a reference to Ukrainian citizenship, except when said actions are taken for the purpose of terminating Ukrainian citizenship as stipulated by Ukrainian law, as well as in other cases specified by the Russian president.” This is how the special obligation of this category of Russian citizens is defined. And then everything will be very simple: “If it is established that [said] obligations have not been complied with, the Internal Affairs Ministry will file a report, a copy of which will be forwarded to Federal Security Service (FSB) agencies and to the citizen in question. As of the day the said report is filed, this citizen’s petition declaring the renunciation of Ukrainian citizenship will be deemed null and void, and this person will be deemed a Ukrainian citizen.”

Of course, they are allowed to complain about such decisions to various bodies and even petition the courts, but it is telling that the bill pointedly rules out a judicial procedure for reinstating citizenship. It seems that in reality, security and law-enforcement agencies will follow a different path: The FSB will use the Internal Affairs Ministry to rid the state of unworthy people, who could then naturally be deported from Russia. At the same time, if a mistake was made, people whose Russian passports have been confiscated will be offered no apologies. They will be able to swear allegiance to Russia again only after 10 years, which means practically never.