World » Former USSR
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Double Citizenship Banned in Turkmenistan

People have to choose their citizenship during two months

"Ethnic cleansing" continues in the republic of Turkmenistan. Turkmen authorities want to get rid of everyone, who managed to become citizens of two countries - Russia and Turkmenistan. According to the information of the Russian embassy, 450 people have refused from the Turkmen citizenship recently. This number seems to be very small at first sight, taking into consideration the fact that up to 120,000 people have the double citizenship in the republic. Well, it is only a beginning. It seems that remaining thousands of people do not know what to do - whether to go to Russia or to stay in Turkmenistan. The choice is not large, really. In addition to that, a lot of "double citizens" do not have a place to live in Russia.

Furthermore, people do not have much time to make a decision. Saparmurat Niyazov, the Turkmenistan president, signed the decree to prohibit the double citizenship on April 22. The decree sets the time period for choosing a citizenship - two months. This means that those people, who do not manage to make up their minds until June 22, have all chances to get acquainted with all peculiarities of the Turkmen national legal system.

As a matter of fact, there is nothing sensational in the decree of the Turkmen president. Ashkhabad (the capital of the republic) has been dreaming to get rid of the double citizenship agreement with Russia, which was concluded in 1993. Niyazov explained the reason why in the beginning of the current year. As the Turkmen president said, the agreement helped Turkmen criminals to hide from justice. "Our fugitives use that opportunity, they move over to Russia, settle there, obtain a Russian passport, and Turkmen laws can not get them."

It is worth mentioning that an alleged attempt on Saparmurat Niyazov's life took place in November of the last year. After that, the Turkmen authorities decided to deal with the issue of the double citizenship in detail. However, this issue was pushed into the background in the beginning of the year, after the Russian Foreign Ministry set out its protest about it. This did not last long, though, until April 10th, when Russian giant Gazprom and the government of Turkmenistan signed an agreement pertaining to the transportation of the Turkmen gas via the Russian territory. The agreement was signed for 25 years.

A lot of observers believe that the Turkmen president obtained all advantages regarding the issue of the double citizenship in the republic. Niyazov decided to use that opportunity right away. What about Russia then? It goes about tens of thousands of its citizens here. Russia has not made any official comments yet. Well, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed its embarrassment about the hasty decision of the Turkmenistan government, but that was basically all. This looks like the decree of the Turkmenistan president was totally unexpected for Moscow. There is an impression that the Russian government does not want to deal with this problem. However, the reason why is not clear, for Russian officials always say that they are determined to stand up for the interests of their country-fellows who live in other countries. For the time being, the owners of the double citizenship have to deal with their problems alone.

On the photo: Saparmurat Niyazov, the Turkmen President

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