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Russian MP rips Kiev's citizenship offer to Russian ‘political refugees’ as populist ploy

The parliamentarian doubted that "politically persecuted" Russian nationals would rush to take advantage of the newly introduced simplified rules

MOSCOW, August 13. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s scheme to introduce a fast-track system for allegedly "politically persecuted" Russian nationals to get Ukrainian citizenship is a populist ploy, since Russia has no political prisoners, Chairman of the Russian State Duma’s (lower house) Foreign Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky told TASS on Tuesday.

"Zelensky’s decree is a definitely populist tactic. There are no political prisoners in modern Russia. Unlike in Ukraine, where [Editor-in-Chief of RIA Novosti Ukraine] Kirill Vyshinsky is still illegitimately kept under arrest," Slutsky said.

He also expressed strong doubts that crowds of "oppressed refugees" would rush to take advantage of the simplified rules.

Zelensky "had better think about and take care of the welfare of his own citizens," Slutsky emphasized. In the lawmaker's thinking, the Ukrainian president would better remedy the mistakes of his predecessor Pyotr Poroshenko, lift the blockade from the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, "stop bombing children and elderly citizens of Donbass."

"And first of all, he should stop persecuting our citizens for political motives, and eventually release Vyshinsky from custody," Slutsky concluded.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has ordered the government to draw up a bill on streamlining the procedures to obtain Ukrainian citizenship for Russians, who are "persecuted based on political grounds." The decree was published on the Ukrainian president’s website on Tuesday.

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) detained Kirill Vyshinsky on May 15, 2018, charging him with treason and illegal gun trafficking. The Kherson city court arrested him for 2 months on May 17, and later the arrest was prolonged several times. If convicted, he will face a jail term of up to 15 years.