MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a decree that gives people living in parts of Ukraine under Moscow’s control a path to Russian citizenship.
But that also means that those who decline or who do not legalise their status face potential deportation.
The decree extends to four Ukrainian regions which Russia has claimed as its own and partially controls: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
Kyiv says it will retake all four areas and has accused Moscow of trying to browbeat its citizens into accepting Russian citizenship.
The new decree sets out ways that Ukrainian citizens or those holding passports issued by Russia-backed breakaway republics, and who live in the four regions, can start the process of becoming Russian citizens or legalise their status with the Russian authorities.
But it also says that anyone who does not take such action by July 1 of next year will be regarded as a foreign citizen, something that will leave them at risk of being deported from territory that Russia considers its own.
The decree also allows the authorities to deport people from the four regions if they are deemed a threat to Russia’s national security or take part in what the decree refers to as unauthorised protests. REUTERS