Something strange is happening with the evacuation of Russian citizens that stuck abroad amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and mass lockdowns around the world.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, there are 25,000–35,000 Russian citizens abroad that want to return to Russia. People that remain in the South-East Asia and India are currently in especially dare conditions. Despite this, on April 3, the government announced that it was halting flights returning its nationals from abroad after midnight April 4. The move came amid a series of questionable lockdown measures employed across Russia under the pretext of containing the COVID-19 outbreak.
On April 6, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin came with a detailed statement addressing the implementation of the anti-COVID-19 meausres, slamming the erupting cases of overzealous bureaucracy, and announcing the resumption of special flights returning Russinas from foreign countries. This announcement was positively received by the Russian public.
However, on April 7, it appeared that the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency withdrew the previously issued permission to fly the plane from Khabarovsk to evacuate Russian tourists from South Korea’s Seoul. The regional government said that it was working to get more details on the situation.
Earlier it was reported that it is planned to return up to 1,500 Russians from abroad via seven flights from various countries, including Thailand, Japan and South Korea. The airline “Aurora” was supposed to take out more than 170 tourists from Seoul to Khabarovsk.
Meanwhile, the government introduced a bill that allows foreigners not to renounce its previous citizenship upon receipt of a Russian one. The document was published in the database of the lower house of parliament.
Additionally, the bill proposes to repeal the provision requiring to reside in Russia for three years and confirm the availability of means of subsistence for those who were citizens of the USSR, lived or reside in former republics of the USSR. The exemption applies to foreigners married to Russian citizens living in the country with common children. In addition, if there is at least one parent being a Russian citizen residing in the country, foreigners can apply for Russian citizenship in a simplified manner.
It remains unclear why this initiative is introduced right now, when Russia is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and most notably lockdown meausres to contain the ‘COVID-19 threat’.
The Russian citizenship is not just a passport. In accordance with the Constitution, this means that a person, as a part of the Russian nation, becomes the owner of all its resources and territory. The reasons behind the decision to simplify the citizenship procedure for citizens of the countries of the former USSR are understandable. However, the decision to simlify the process of gaining the citizenship for people who have never had any relation to Russia, the USSR, and the Russian Empire raises questions.
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