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Turkmenistan: Russia Reports Progress In Citizenship Dispute

Moscow, 10 July 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Russia today reported some progress in its dispute with Turkmenistan over a controversial dual-citizenship agreement. Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Fedotov, who was in Turkmenistan yesterday meeting with officials, said Ashgabat no longer insisted that Russian citizens who want to leave the country apply for exit visas.

Talking to reporters in Moscow, Fedotov also said Turkmenistan had promised not to take any step that would go against the interests of its Russian community.

Russian President Vladimir Putin today telephoned his Turkmen counterpart and urged him to respect the rights of Russian citizens living in his country.

Earlier this year, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov unilaterally cancelled the dual-citizenship agreement linking Ashgabat to Moscow. He also issued an ultimatum to Russian passport holders, giving them a few weeks to decide whether they wanted to stay in Turkmenistan or move to Russia.

Russia claims about 100,000 people in the Central Asian country hold both Turkmen and Russian citizenships.