Russia forced citizenship upon Ukrainians in occupied territories, new report finds

The Conflict Observatory released a new report on Wednesday that found that Russia has promulgated a series of laws to accelerate the application process for Russian citizenship while simultaneously penalizing those who did not apply for citizenship in Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine.

The report detailed how Russia’s forced “passportisation” involves two parts: de jure passportisation and de facto passportisation. The de jure part exists because Russia expedited the process of applying a passport. Russia also declared that those who did not accept Russian citizenship would be seen as foreign citizens and stateless people. Subsequently, they could be subject to deportation and detention. On the other hand, de facto passportisation refers to policies that deny civilians’ associated rights as citizens, including access to basic needs, medical services, social benefits and municipal services. Statelessness also subject these people to restrictions on employment, seizure of property and removal.

Russia has a history of implementing passportisation in occupied territories and annexing occupied regions. The UN observed that Russia adopted passportisation as a measure to politically and economically annex the occupied Ukrainian region of Donbas. The representatives of the US and Latvia have also condemned forced passportisation in occupied territories against Ukrainians, in a meeting of the UN Security Council. A report released by the UN in March also revealed Russia’s measures to annex occupied regions.

Forced passportisation violates established international humanitarian law principles. Article 45 of the Hague Convention (IV) stipulates that the occupying power shall not compel the inhabitants of the occupied territory to swear allegiance to the hostile power. Article 69 of the Additional Protocol I also provides that the occupying power shall ensure the provision of clothing, bedding, means of shelter and other supplies essential to the survival of civilians of the occupied territory. International human rights treaties such as the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also provide for the recognition of legal, national identity and the associated rights of a national identity.

The Conflict Observatory is funded by the US Department of State and the European Democratic Resilience Initiative. It also collaborates with several leading research partners including Esri and Yale University’s Humanitarian Research Lab.