People facing prosecution in the EU for supporting Moscow could find it easier to live in Russia
A group of Russian lawmakers has proposed granting residency permits to foreign nationals who face persecution in their home countries for words or deeds in support of Moscow. The proposed amendments to the citizenship law were submitted to the State Duma on Tuesday.
According to the ‘A Just Russia – For Truth’ (SRZP) party, hundreds of people – mainly in EU countries – have faced criminal charges for speaking in support of Russia in the Ukraine conflict or displaying Russian military symbols.
More than 140 people in Germany, 384 in the Czech Republic, and 40 in Latvia have faced such charges, SRZP lawmakers noted. Under the proposed amendments to the law regulating the status of foreigners in Russia, such individuals would be eligible for a Russian residence permit.
SRZP has 28 members in the 450-seat legislature. Its proposal comes a day after President Vladimir Putin signed into law the procedure for expediting the processing of citizenship requests for adult residents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Moldova, all former republics of the Soviet Union.
According to official records, in the first nine months of 2023 more than 15,000 people from abroad – mainly children from mixed marriages – received Russian citizenship, while about 4,400 Russian nationals filed to renounce theirs.
Following the escalation of the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, the government in Kiev called for a ban on the letter ‘Z,’ which was used by some Russian military vehicles as an identifier. In response, many European and NATO countries outlawed such symbols and even statements in support of Russia.
In October 2022, a German court fined a Hamburg resident €4,000 ($3,988 at the time), ruling that displaying ‘Z’ in his car window amounted to “an endorsement of the Ukraine war through solidarization with Russia, which is a war of aggression.”
A year later, Estonia fined one of its citizens €400 ($426) for displaying “aggressor state” symbols by wearing a fur hat with an old Soviet coat of arms. In May, the neighboring Latvia banned all WWII Victory Day celebrations as pro-Russian, noting that only solidarity with Ukraine and glorification of the EU would be acceptable.
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