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Russian embassy puzzled by London’s stance on Russian passports for Donbass

The experience of the Northern Ireland shows that UK recognizes double citizenship as means of achieving accord and reconciliation, Russian diplomats said

LONDON, April 26. /TASS/. London’s move to condemn the Russian bill easing the citizenship procedure for residents of eastern Ukraine elicits the strong feeling of surprise, the Russian embassy in London said in a statement on Friday.

"The fact that London has earlier expressed no doubts about the legitimacy of granting the Hungarian or Romanian citizenship to certain categories of Ukrainians is particularly eyebrow-raising," the embassy said. "By the way, the experience of the Northern Ireland settlement (even with regard to peculiarities of each case and the significant difference between the conflicts in Northern Ireland and eastern Ukraine) demonstrates that the United Kingdom recognizes double citizenship as a possible means of achieving accord and reconciliation."

"We once again call upon the UK side to focus instead on assisting the true implementation of the Minsk agreement by all sides, first of all the Kiev government. This is particularly important now as the domestic and foreign policies of the president-elect are beginning to take shape," the statement reads.

The embassy stressed that Moscow was not forcing anyone to accept the Russian citizenship, instead giving the Donbass residents an opportunity to apply for Russian citizenship is they want to. Besides, "all possibilities for re-integration have been preserved," because the residents of the self-proclaimed republics will not have to waive their Ukrainian citizenship to get the Russian one.

"London accuses Russia of ‘creating further obstacles to the reintegration of these communities into Ukraine’ by simplifying the citizenship procedure. In reality, obstacles are created by the Kiev government’s policies, including their reluctance to restore social and economic ties with Donbass, to pay social benefits and to grant a special status to those territories," the embassy said.

On April 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree allowing the residents of several regions of southeastern Ukraine to receive Russian citizenship under a simplified procedure. According to the document, the decision has been made "in order to protect human rights and freedoms" based on universally accepted international laws.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office condemned the decision on Thursday, claiming that the move was a "further evidence of Russia’s aggressive actions to destabilise Ukraine and undermine a security sovereignty and territorial integrity."