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Those who conceal second citizenship may face criminal prosecution in Russia

April 01, 2014, 18:04 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© ITAR-TASS/Alexander Ryumin

MOSCOW, April 1. /ITAR-TASS/. Three draft laws on second citizenship of Russian nationals were submitted to the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, on Monday.

The idea was proposed by Andrei Klishas, the chairman of the legislative committee of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament. Last week, Klishas suggested to President Vladimir Putin that criminal responsibility be introduced for hiding second citizenship. The head of state instructed the parliament and government to address the issue.

Lawmakers got down to work and submitted, over three days, three variants of resolving the problem to their colleagues for consideration.

According to the first option, those concealing their second citizenship will be punished by compulsory community service of up to 400 hours, and those who fail to notify the Federal Migration Service of receiving second citizenship will be fined up to 200,000 rubles ($5,700).

The second bill envisions a fine of up to 300,000 rubles ($8,500) as well as compulsory community service. Should the future law be violated by persons whose positions envision a ban on dual citizenship or by candidates for deputies at elections of various levels, they would be punished by up to three years in prison.

In line with the third option, dual citizenship will be banned for persons holding elective posts, senior executives of state corporations and state companies, as well as their spouses and underage children. The ban on acquiring second citizenship and residence permits should apply to these categories 10 years since the officials or senior executives left their posts, believes the author of the third draft law, deputy Alexei Kazakov. He proposes firing violators.

Kirill Kabanov, a member of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council and the chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Committee, says the issue of second citizenship was raised in the State Duma quite timely.

“Dual citizenship, accounts in foreign banks and foreign real estate are all interconnected, these are links of one chain. This chain links an official, governor or senior executive of a state company to the country where he has a residence permit or a house by the sea. The dual citizenship law is called upon to reduce or eradicate the number of those who covertly lobby the interests of other countries while living in Russia,” Kabanov told ITAR-TASS in an interview.

“With the current complicated international relations, the law on dual citizenship should aim at ensuring the security of the state and its population. That is why the issue of the so-called nationalization of elites has been put on the agenda. If representatives of these elites obtain state posts in Russia, they should first and foremost care about how to protect the national interests of their own country, link their future and the well-being of their families to their country of residence,” the expert said.

Kabanov said that “a person with dual citizenship is a potential agent of influence, and, in case of public activity, a foreign agent - the way the current laws call recipients of foreign grants in nonprofit public organizations”.

He said the option suggesting that officials be punished for hiding their dual citizenship by imprisonment will hardly be approved, as severe punishment would violate human rights. “The optimal punishment for persons who conceal the fact of dual citizenship is dismissal with a subsequent ban to hold posts in state structures, elective power bodies and state companies,” the Presidential Human Rights Council member is convinced.

Besides dismissal, there should also be the practice of reimbursement by those guilty of hiding dual citizenship of the state’s expenses to collect information and reveal the violations. “The size of the fine should fully cover the state expenditures,” Kabanov said.

Russia’s position regarding dual citizenship is currently defined by an article of the Russian Constitution, in line with which a national of the country is entitled to foreign citizenship, which does not diminish his rights or freedoms and does not relieve him of duties resulting from Russian citizenship.


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