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Putin Asks Parliament to Ease Citizenship Rules

Tajik migrant workers in the Russian city of Astrakhan (RFE/RL) 1 December 2005 -- President Vladimir Putin has submitted to Russia's lower house of parliament a bill that would make it easier for citizens of former Soviet republics to acquire Russian citizenship.

The bill will extend by two years the deadline for some citizens of former Soviet republics who are legally registered as residents in Russia to apply for fast-track citizenship. It will also expand the types of legal residents who are able to apply.

According to Russian officials, there are currently between 7 and 14 million illegal migrants in Russia, most of them from former Soviet republics.

The Federal Migration Service has announced a plan to legalize about 1 million illegal migrants next year.