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Moscow forces Ukrainians to apply for Russian passports

Moscow forces Ukrainians to apply for Russian passports

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Kyiv: People living in parts of Ukraine dominated by Russian forces are being forced to apply for a Russian passport. Soldiers were seen doing door-to-door checks for people who don't have Russian papers. Ukrainian citizens were also told that they cannot file key paperwork without Russian documents.

Experts say that Moscow is steadily imposing its passports to justify its occupation, tighten control on the region and people, and undermine Ukrainian identity, reported AFP.

Mykhailo Fomenko, a lawyer with the Donbas SOS aid group, said that most people get Russian passports under the influence of threats and violence. "When it's all over, these passports will be removed from our lives and forgotten." However, biometrics and family information collected from people will still remain in Russia's possession.

Alena Lunova, advocacy manager at Ukrainian human rights group Zmina, said that Russia wants to erase Ukrainian identity. The governor of the eastern Lugansk region, Sergei Gaidai, said: "A person who received a Russian passport, who was forced to receive it, and a person who received it voluntarily are different situations."

Moscow has been issuing Russian passports to Ukrainians in eastern Donbas areas held by pro-Moscow separatists and annexed Crimea. Some people relent when they cannot get a house or car without Russian documents. Once they register, they also start getting Russian translations of their key documents like birth certificates and marriage certificates.

While this has been going on for years, it has become more aggressive since the full-scale invasion was launched in February 2022.

Putin has signed a decree saying Ukrainians in occupied areas will be potentially deported if they do not get a Russian passport by July 1, 2024. They also need Russian-issued papers to get a job and seek medical treatment. Moscow claims that 80,000 passports have been issued since September 2022.

It has been 15 months since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Former Russian President and current deputy chairman of Putin's powerful security council, Dmitry Medvedev, said that the Ukraine war could last for decades with long periods of fighting interspersed by truces. He told Russia's RIA news agency that as long as Ukrainian authorities are in place, it will not end and reiterated Moscow's claim that Ukraine is a Nazi state. "As long as there is such a power in place, there will be, say, three years of truce, two years of conflict, and everything will be repeated."

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TAGS:Ukraine warRussian forces in UkrainePutin attacks Ukraine
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