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Zelenskiy Signs Decree To Fast-Track Citizenship For 'Persecuted' Russians, 'Defenders' Of Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has simplified naturalization procedures for foreigners and stateless people who have "defended Ukraine" and for Russians facing "political persecution" at home.

In a decree (No. 594 / 2019) published on the presidential website on August 13, Zelenskiy ordered the cabinet to “urgently” develop and draft a law “aimed at simplifying the procedure for acquiring citizenship.”

The decree covers “foreigners and stateless persons who have participated in the implementation of national security and defense measures and citizens of the Russian Federation who have been persecuted for political reasons.”

The decree requires the government to submit a draft law on the revamped asylum procedures to parliament within three months.

The move comes less than a month after Russia announced a decree to fast-track the granting of citizenship to all residents of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting a war against Ukrainian troops.

Ukraine and the West decried the move as an attempt to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty and was seen as an effort to provoke Zelenskiy and undermine his electoral win in April.

Some 13,000 people have been killed and 1.5 million more have been internally displaced in the smoldering conflict over the past five years, according to estimates by the United Nations.

In a separate move, Ukraine's state security service accused a Russian consular officer in the western city of Lviv of spying and designated him persona non grata.

The accused official has already left the country, a statement from the service said.

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