Citizenship for “political refugees”

16 May 2023
Citizenship for “political refugees”
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Draft bill #9295 of May 12, 2023 

Sponsor: Oleksii Honcharenko, the European Solidarity faction 

Who is affected: the Cabinet, the State Migration Service, and individuals persecuted for political beliefs or pro-Ukrainian views by states recognized as aggressors or states not recognizing the territorial integrity of Ukraine 

Summary of the bill: 

  • individuals will be allowed to acquire Ukrainian citizenship if they are persecuted or under threat of persecution by states recognized as aggressors, states that do not recognize the territorial integrity or sovereignty of Ukraine, or states that do not recognize the unlawfulness of the encroachment on the territorial integrity of Ukraine — the Russian armed aggression 
  • such individuals will not be required to: 
    • terminate foreign citizenship but only to submit a declaration of renunciation of foreign citizenship due to being persecuted 
    • apply for an immigration permit 
    • know the state language or understand it to the extent necessary for communication 
    • have legal sources of livelihood. 

What is right: the bill proposes to support individuals persecuted for political beliefs or pro-Ukrainian views by Russia or its allies. 

What is wrong: concessions proposed in the bill to such persons in obtaining Ukrainian citizenship are too extensive and unjustified. Besides corruption risks, they can result in a threat to national security due to the almost uncontrolled granting of Ukrainian citizenship. 

Alternative solution: the idea to support citizens of the aggressor state who have pro-Ukrainian views may have positive consequences. However, the state’s primary interest is to grant citizenship to individuals who can integrate into Ukrainian society. It is possible only if such individuals have sufficient knowledge of the state language and are able to provide for themselves financially. Also, safeguard mechanisms should be introduced to prevent cases of uncontrolled granting of citizenship.