Violeta Moskalu: Bill aims to strip Ukrainians living abroad of citizenship | KyivPost

Will be interesting to see whether the Ukrainian Canadian community takes a more high profile on this this proposed legislation (welcome comment by any Ukrainian Canadian readers).

StatsCan data suggests that less than 10 percent of Ukrainian immigrants (first generation) have dual citizenship:

The Verkhovna Rada may soon consider amendments that could deprive many Ukrainians living abroad of their citizenship.

President Petro Poroshenko submitted the amendments, called bill No. 8297, on April 19, identifying them as urgent. The amendments will be considered by a Rada committee on May 16 and may be considered by the Rada as early as on May 17.

The legislation was previously promoted by the authorities as being aimed at depriving of their citizenship those who voted in Russia’s fake referendum to annex Ukraine’s Crimea in March 2014.

In fact, it will not apply to those people, but may apply to almost any Ukrainian with dual nationality abroad. The wording of the bill is so vague that its effect may be devastating.

The bill says that “(…) if an adult citizen of Ukraine has used an electoral or other right granted to him by foreign citizenship or has fulfilled the duties that foreign citizenship puts on him, which can be confirmed by the data of the public registers of state bodies or local governments of foreign states, information published on official websites, in official publications by state bodies or bodies of local government and/or documents provided by such bodies, or if he or she (an adult citizen of Ukraine) received or used in Ukraine or during the departure/entry to Ukraine a passport of a foreign state, which has been recorded by an official employee of the State Border Guard of Ukraine or another the state body of Ukraine.”

Bill No. 8297 states that “the acquisition of Russian citizenship due to unlawful … actions on the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the occupation administration of the Russian Federation” will not be classified as the voluntary acquisition of citizenship. Therefore, participation in the sham Russian elections in Kremlin-annexed Crimea it will not be considered as grounds for stripping a person of Ukrainian citizenship.

This is not the first attempt by Poroshenko to deprive of millions of Ukrainian people of Ukrainian citizenship. In March 2017, bill 6175 was submitted by the president to the Verkhovna Rada, but thanks to the efforts of the Ukrainian diaspora and Ukrainian expats, the bill was blocked.

Moreover, Poroshenko has used citizenship legislation as a tool to get rid of his political opponents. Last year, he stripped his vehement critic Mikheil Saakashvili and his ally Sasha Borovik of their Ukrainian citizenship.

The cancellation of their citizenship violated Ukrainian and international law and due process and was politically motivated, according to both Saakashvili’s lawyers and independent ones.

Despite the catastrophic demographic situation in Ukraine, the Ukrainian government continues its attempts to deprive citizenship to a large number of Ukrainian people, without recognizing that today de facto, at least 10 percent of Ukrainians are bi- or multi- national.

In fact, the repeated attempt to pass such legislation seems even more threatening, since this repeated political mistake is interpreted by experts as a conscious desire to deprive of Ukrainian citizenship millions of Ukrainian people who temporarily live abroad, without any understanding of their role and contribution to the development of Ukraine.

Ukrainians who live abroad are the best lobbyists of Ukraine. Moreover, they are de facto the best investors, who support Ukraine financially on their shoulders, as the mythological ancient Greek titans. According to the data of the National Bank and the State Statistics Service, Ukrainians abroad transfer five times more money to their homeland than foreign investors. For example, in 2017, Ukrainian migrants transferred to Ukraine $9.3 billion. By comparison, during the same period, foreign direct investments amounted to $1.8 billion. Financial transfers from Ukrainians abroad are increasing every year ($7 billion in 2015, $7.5 billion in 2016). Thus, the recent relative stability of the national currency has been achieved thanks to the Ukrainians living and working abroad. Meanwhile, due to the fact that about 10 million Ukrainians work abroad, Ukraine has a lower level of unemployment, and their financial transfers reduce the level of poverty in the country.

A careful analysis of international practice shows that the global trend is the opposite to banning multiple citizenship. Since 1960, the global tendency has changed dramatically, and the vast majority of states do not use their laws to automatically deprive people of citizenship. International experience on the multiple citizenship phenomenon shows that 55 percent of countries allow multiple citizenship without restrictions, 19 percent of states allow it with certain limitations, and only 26 percent of countries ban multiple citizenship. These last are mostly the least developed countries of the world.

While Israel and China fight for the rights of their citizens living outside the country, and in Germany or in Canada there are special integration programs, Ukraine prefers not only to forget about foreign Ukrainians, but even to break ties with them, and revoke their Ukrainian passports. In parallel, the Ukrainian authorities do not create opportunities for high-skilled specialists to return to Ukraine, to help in reforming the country, or bring in new, modern attitudes and approaches, or innovations.

“Ukraine needs powerful government managers, especially with experience from successful projects abroad. Therefore, the adoption of these amendments is inadmissible. These amendments will push Ukrainians to renounce to their Ukrainian nationality and will make it impossible to attract the best specialists to state bodies. In fact, this could be qualified as political sabotage against Ukraine,” said Vadym Tryukhan, a Ukrainian political analyst and ex-diplomat.

The most-used political thesis to defend this rigid approach to citizenship is that in this case Ukrainian politicians will not be able to have several passports.

“The authors of such bills seem to completely ignore the risks of loss of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens as a result of adopting these amendments,” says Igor Reshetnyak, an activist of the Ukrainian community in France and Switzerland.

“This is especially critical at time when the population of Ukraine is steadily decreasing. Of course, there are different agents of the Kremlin in Ukraine, but their damage is not in holding several passports, but in their illegal actions. For these actions they should be punished, and in this case the possession of Ukrainian citizenship by these agents only makes it easier to bring them to justice.”

Given that a presidential election will be held next year, the bill looks like an attempt to diminish the electoral rights of Ukrainians living abroad, who may have a different (and sometimes more critical) vision of the actions of the present government.

“As always, the authorities ignore the interests of millions of Ukrainians who live abroad,” says Tamila Karpyk, a representative of Open World Learning in Toronto and an activist of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada.

“Rather than anticipating the restoration of electoral constitutional rights and ensuring the full representation of the interests of Ukrainians abroad in the Ukrainian parliament (today there are no deputies from a foreign constituency in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine), the authorities make numerous attempts to curtail their electoral rights.”

Some lawmakers are aware of the need for massive public discussion and a professional approach to public policy, but their voice is poorly heard in the media.

“Citizenship can be neither a free gift nor a tsar’s ‘punishment,’” says Oksana Syroyid, a lawmaker from the Samopomich party and deputy speaker of the Rada.

“In a globalized world, in a context of ‘non-visa regimes’ and negative labor migration, the policy on citizenship needs changes. Citizenship should be seen not only as an identity and privilege of ‘vassalage.’ In any case, changing citizenship policy requires more public consensus rather than arbitrary decisions.”

During the times of Stalin, the Ukrainian intelligentsia and dissidents were eradicated by the Soviet NKVD, and now Poroshenko is making a second attempt to revoke the Ukrainian passports of those Ukrainians who have succeeded in the global world. Will this second attempt be successful?

via Violeta Moskalu: Bill aims to strip Ukrainians living abroad of citizenship | KyivPost

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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