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Duma Softens Law On Citizenship In First Reading --> The Russian duma in session (file photo) (AFP) 14 December 2005 -- The State Duma has approved in its first reading a legal amendment that extends the deadline given former Soviet citizens to obtain Russian passports under a simplified procedure.

The change is supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Under the amended legislation, the deadline would be extended until 1 January 2008. The current deadline expires on 1 January.

The proposed legal changes would also make it possible for former Soviet citizens who obtained a residence permit in Russia after 1 July 2002 to apply for citizenship. Under the current legislation, only people who obtained a residence permit prior to that date can apply for citizenship.