The Russian Federation is gearing up the illegal issuance of its passports to Ukrainian citizens residing in the temporarily occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, founder of the Eastern Human Rights Group Pavlo Lysiansky said.

According to him, such “generosity” on the part of Russia is due to the conduct of regular elections to the State Duma of the Russian Federation next week, in which the residents of Donbas areas not controlled by the Government of Ukraine are planned to be involved.

“Putin needs to show that full-fledged Russian citizens live there, that they were not just issued passports, but they elect the State Duma of the Russian Federation. That is, these are people who are full-fledged members of the Russian Federation, and it is obliged to stand up for them in case anything happens,” Lysiansky said.

Since 2019, more than 600,000 Russian passports have been issued to residents of the occupied territories. However, human rights activists claim that at least 700,000 passports have been issued.

Earlier, the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation approved the involvement of residents of the occupied territories of Donbas, who are holders of Russian passports, in electronic voting in the Russian parliamentary elections scheduled for 17-19 September 2021.

According to media reports, Kremlin-backed militants are conducting an active campaign to register residents on the “public services” portal. It is also planned to organise the transfer of voters to polling stations in the Rostov region.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine called on Russia to cancel the decision and expressed a strong protest against the actions of the occupiers.

On Wednesday, 8 September, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine condemned the illegal preparation of the State Duma elections in the temporarily occupied territories and called on the international community to warn Russia against voting in Crimea and Donbas. The document condemns not only Russia’s illegal actions in holding the 19 September elections but also the forced paasportisation of Ukrainian citizens.

The Verkhovna Rada also called on the international community to not recognise the results of the elections to the State Duma of the Russian Federation and its subsequent decisions if voting is held in the temporarily occupied part of Ukraine. In addition, Ukrainian parliamentarians urged the imposition of sanctions on those who involve Ukrainian citizens in the State Duma elections, violating Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Bohdan Marusyak

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