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SIMFEROPOL, March 25, 23:25 /ITAR-TASS/. A total of 6,500 residents of the Crimean Peninsula have obtained Russian passports over a week since the start of their issuance in the former Ukrainian region that recently became part of Russia, a deputy head of the Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS), Anatoly Fomenko, said Tuesday.
“A total of 6,500 Russian passports have been issued in Crimea. We have adopted more than 20,000 applications,” Fomenko told Itar-Tass. “We try to issue passports as quickly as possible, but [the applicants] will have to be patient. 1.5 million people is a big figure.”
Fomenko said the authorities have to involve officials from other regions in the passport issuance process.
The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, held a referendum on March 16, in which an overwhelming majority of their population decided to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
Crimea subsequently signed a treaty on its reunification with the Russian Federation on March 18. Russia’s upper house of parliament ratified it on March 21.
The developments came amid political turmoil in Ukraine, where a coup occurred in February following months of anti-government protests that often turned violent.
In the Soviet Union, Crimea was part of Russia until 1954.