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Ethnic Kyrgyz Have Trouble Gaining Citizenship In Kyrgyzstan

Ethnic Kyrgyz from other countries say it is difficult for them to get their citizenship applications processed in Kyrgyzstan.
BISHKEK -- Some ethnic Kyrgyz expatriates who have returned to Kyrgyzstan from neighboring Tajikistan say they are skeptical that eased regulations will help them gain Kyrgyz citizenship, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Writer and journalist Mirzahalil Karimov, an ethnic Kyrgyz who left Tajikistan, told RFE/RL that many ethnic Kyrgyz who arrived in the past 15 years from Tajikistan still cannot get Kyrgyz citizenship.

He added that many of his compatriots were considering going back to Tajikistan and other countries they had emigrated from because of their difficult living conditions in Kyrgyzstan.

Karimov said that officials made a mistake after independence in 1991 by starting a resettlement program for ethnic Kyrgyz abroad without being properly prepared for the immigrants.

Even though the current procedure for ethnic Kyrgyz from abroad to gain citizenship simply requires that the applicant has lived in Kyrgyzstan for one year and paid a passport fee, applicants for citizenship reside in the country and pay the fee but wait several years without any action being taken on their applications.

Some people say they have paid bribes to have their documents accepted and/or processed.

Saltanat Barakanova, a migration expert in the Kyrgyz parliament, told RFE/RL that the state program for resettling ethnic Kyrgyz from abroad had not been fully implemented.

She added that many ethnic Kyrgyz who had moved to Kyrgyzstan also had not received the property and low-interest loans that were promised to them.

Zulpukar Sapanov, an ethnic Kyrgyz man from Tajikistan who stayed in Kyrgyzstan after studying there, said that hundreds of ethnic Kyrgyz returnees work as day laborers because they lack the necessary documents to gain full employment.

New amendments to the law currently in parliament and approved during a first reading will cancel the one-year residence requirement and the fee for the Kyrgyz passport.

But ethnic Kyrgyz seeking citizenship told RFE/RL that the laws were irrelevant if their applications were not processed.

Read more in Kyrgyz here and more in Russian here