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Author`s name Michael Simpson

Russia's Foreign Ministry Says It's Unaware of Apartments Confiscated in Turkmenistan

Russia's Izvestia newspaper comments upon violation of human rights of RF citizens on the territory of the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan
On June 27, Russian mass media reported that officials of the Turkmenistan National Security Ministry confiscated apartments of people holding dual citizenship (the Russian and the Turkmen ones). The Editor-in-Chief of the central Asian program of Deutsche Welle's Russian Service Vitaly Volkov told Izvestia the details of the incident, those ones that hadn't been mentioned on radio. According to Vitaly Volkov, the seizure of apartments took place on June 10-12 in that part of the city where the circus stands (there are elite houses with apartments belonging to the state) and also in Ashkhabad's district named "Mir" (Peace).

The newspaper reports, two months ago the Turkmenistan National Security Ministry ordered to toughen control over people holding dual citizenship; additional financing was appropriated and more agents were involved for this purpose. So, when people holding Russian and Turkmen citizenships left their apartments for several days, the agents reported the fact to special services of the republic.

According to Volkov, a verbal instruction of Turkmenistan leader Saparmurat Niyazov has been circulated in the power structures. This instruction says that property of people with dual citizenship who leave Turkmenistan after cancellation of the agreement on the citizenship must be distributed between officials of the power structures. June 22 was the deadline for people holding dual citizenship to decide what citizenship they wanted to retain.
As June 22 drew near, special services grew more active. When they got information about some apartments staying empty within several days, officials of the Turkmen special services decided that owners moved to Russia and immediately settled there. Russian citizens who were thus deprived of their apartments organized mass protest actions. What is more, Izvestia reports that about 1,000 of Turkmenistan citizens held a protest meeting near the Russian Embassy in Ashkhabad on June 27; they threw their Turkmen passports across the Embassy fence.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, over 100,000 people in Turkmenistan are holding dual citizenship. When an agreement on dual citizenship was concluded between Russia and Turkmenistan in 1993, the procedure of getting the Russian citizenship was very simple for Turkmen citizens. The Russian citizenship was granted not only to servicemen of the Russian military units stationed in the republic; all citizens of Turkmenistan who were in Russia or had relatives living in Russia also had an opportunity to get the Russian citizenship. A Russian citizen of Turkmen origin could provide the Russian citizenship to all of his relatives living in Turkmenistan.

Alexander Yakovenko, the official spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry commented upon the information reported by Deutsche Welle and said he had no information about confiscation of apartments belonging to people with dual citizenship. He added that the Foreign Ministry addressed the Deutsche Welle leadership and asked to present evidence proving the information reported by the radio station. Alexander Yakovenko says that a Russian delegation in the bipartite commission for citizenship studies all information reported by different sources and mass media about the situation of Russian citizens in Turkmenistan.

Let's get back to the publication in Izvestia and emphasize that violation of human rights, nationality persecutions and repressions against the opposition in Turkmenistan are forcible facts to consider introduction of international sanctions against Ashkhabad in the UN Security Council. The newspaper adds, it is not ruled out that in exchange for their support in the UN Washington and London may demand some counter concessions from Moscow.


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