Residents of the occupied areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, who in violation of international law received Russian passports under a simplified procedure, are promised the opportunity to participate in the Russian parliamentary elections in the fall of 2021. Meanwhile, passportization in ORDLO runs rapidly and often compulsory.
According to the information provided to us by the Ukrainian special services, to speed up passportization, the leadership of Russia’s occupational administration in the Donetsk region set a minimum daily number of documents in each district sector of the “migration service” of the so-called DNR – 40 “DNR” and Russian passports per day. As of April 24, 2021, 242 850 people received Russian passports in the occupied part of the Donetsk region, while at the beginning of April there were 11 000 fewer of them – 231 thousand. As of the beginning of April, 683 thousand residents have “DNR passports”, without which (or “LNR passport”) it is impossible to obtain Russian citizenship. There is also information that passportization of the military servicemen of the 2nd Army Corps of the Russian Federation, which includes the armed formations of the so-called LNR, is actively ongoing. Some of its units have passportized from 64% to 89% of the personnel.
Also, according to the information provided to us, the principal of the secondary school №55 in the city of Horlivka issued an oral order to all school employees to obtain a passport of a citizen of the Russian Federation. In case of refusal, employees are threatened with discharge. According to school officials, the mandatory receipt of a Russian passport is explained by the fact that those who receive it must participate in the elections to the State Duma of the Russian Federation.
According to the head of the Main Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation in the Rostov region Oleg Agarkov, as of February 18, 2021, 639 thousand people from ORDLO received Russian passports under a simplified procedure, and in January 2021, there were only 400 thousand of them.
Along with the expedited passportization, ORDLO residents are inclined to support the Russian party “United Russia”. On May 10, 2021, Secretary of the General Council of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “United Russia” party Andrei Turchak signed a cooperation agreement with the “Union of Donbas Volunteers”, a non-governmental organization founded mostly by people from the so-called DNR and headed by its former “prime minister” Alexander Borodai and the former “head of the Ministry of State Security” Andrei Pinchuk. In addition to the formal role of this agreement – to declare support – it also provides for the possibility of participation of ORDLO residents with Russian passports in the voting for the primaries of the “United Russia” party.
Alexander Borodai also submitted his candidacy to participate in the party’s preliminary vote. In addition to him, applications were submitted by 2 other members of the “Union” – Maxim Chikin and Maxim Khlopin.
“It should not be the case that a citizen of the Russian Federation, regardless of territory and place of residence, is restricted in his rights”, – “United Russia” representative Andrei Turchak said during a visit to the occupied Ukrainian territories.
In fact, the “restriction of the rights of Russian citizens” in the case of Russia’s passportization of ORDLO residents was programmed from the beginning. Since the so-called republics are not part of the Russian Federation, the people who received passports did not receive a Russian residence permit along. Its absence in the conditions of the existing institute of residence in Russia means that a person will not be able to receive social security from Russia and vote in the Russian elections. At the same time, residents of the occupied areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are electoral capital for the Russian government.
“For preserving the republics […] we, first of all, express our gratitude to the President of Russia. That is why we have a special duty and responsibilities before him. Of course, we are ready to support Putin’s party”, – head of the so-called “Union of Donbas Volunteers” Alexander Borodai stated.
According to a poll conducted by the Russian think tank Levada, the pro-government “United Russia” party’s electoral rating continues to fall – if in August 2020 31% of Russians were ready to vote for the party, now the figure has dropped to 27%.
It is currently unknown whether a procedure will be organized to ensure that ORDLO residents can vote with Russian passports and, if so, how. As an option, the opening of special stations in the Rostov region or directly in the occupied territories is under discussion.
At the same time, according to the results of the 2016 parliamentary elections, the “United Russia” received the most votes – 54,2% and thus retained a majority for the last 5 years.
But during the referendum in Russia in 2020, residents of ORDLO had already received the right to vote in the Rostov region.
It bears reminding that under the formal pretext of “protecting the Russian-speaking population” in 2014, the Russian Federation sent its troops to the territory of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions (Vladimir Putin later justified the occupation of Crimea by this). And after the start of the Russian passportization of residents of the occupied territories in 2019, Russian officials have repeatedly stated their intention to protect ORDLO because of the presence of “Russian citizens” there.
Author: Olesia Horiainova