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Russia: Seleznev Criticizes New Passports

Moscow, 23 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - State Duma Chairman Gennady Seleznev says the Communist opposition will call for changing the format of new Russian passports, which do not state the nationality of the holder.

Seleznev yesterday told reporters that the opposition favors restoring the line listing nationality, and leaving citizens free to decide whether to fill it out. Top officials in Tatarstan and several other republics have objected to the new passports, which the government began issuing this month. The Duma opposition is seeking support from the Federation Council, which is made up of regional leaders.

In the Soviet era, the infamous "line 5" on passports was blamed for facilitating discrimination against persons belonging to certain ethnic groups. Russia's former nationalities minister Valery Tishkov has characterized the removal of the mention of nationality in the new passports as one of the most significant developments in Russia's nationalities policy in recent years.