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Putin Signs Order Widening Eligibility For Russian Passports


Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to fast-track passports and citizenship for people in Ukraine and Soviet-era deportees.

The order, published on the Kremlin's website on May 1, followed Putin's decree last week that made it easier for thousands of people living in war-torn eastern Ukraine to obtain Russian passports -- an announcement that was mocked by Ukraine's new president.

The new order makes it easier not only for Ukrainian citizens and children to get Russian passports, but also certain stateless persons who lived in Crimea but moved away prior to Russia's 2014 annexation of the Black Sea peninsula.

Also eligible for Russian passports are foreigners who are descendants or relatives of Soviet-era deportees from Crimea, including Crimean Tatars. Many were deported to Uzbekistan on the orders of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1944.

Just days after Volodomyr Zelenskiy won a resounding victory to become Ukraine's next president, Putin signed a decree that simplified the process for Ukrainian citizens in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions to get Russian citizenship.

Decried by Ukraine and the West as an attempt to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty, the move was seen as an effort to provoke Zelenskiy and undermine his electoral win.

Zelenskiy, meanwhile, mocked the passport offer, telling Ukrainians not to bother since, he said in a Facebook post, Russian citizenship means "the right to be arrested for peaceful protests," and "the right not to have free and competitive elections."

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