Statelessness in Russia and Ukraine: possible ways to overcome the problem

Human rights report by ADC Memorial and CF «The Right to Protection», Ukraine.

Even though decades have passed since the fall of the Soviet Union, the problems of statelessness, whose roots reach way back into the past, have yet to be overcome in either Russia or Ukraine. The laws and practices of both countries are unfriendly to stateless persons, most of whom are citizens of the former Soviet Union.

Ukraine now faces the challenges of adapting laws and practice to the Convention Relating to the Status and of Stateless Persons (1954) and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961).

Russia, which agreed with recommendations made within the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (2018) concerning accession to these Conventions, must implement the ECtHR’s strategic judgment in the case of “Kim v. Russia” and the subsequent RF Constitutional Court judgment in the case of Mskhiladze. In the absence of general measures, systemic violations of the rights of stateless persons continue. These include the practices of confining stateless persons in foreign national temporary detention centers for an indefinite period without judicial control and of ordering expulsions that cannot be enforced.

Both countries must adopt urgent positive measures to improve the situation of the Roma minority, including in relation to documentation.

The matter of the citizenship of residents of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts who are now governed by the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR is particularly critical in light of the military conflict. Russian passports issued to residents of these territories under simplified procedures are not recognized by Ukraine and will likely be boycotted by other countries as well. This means that holders of these passports may be deprived of their Ukrainian citizenship. Children born in these territories who do not have any documents other than the ones issued by the de facto authorities are now hostage to this situation.