Estonia threatens to deport people who take Russian citizenship

03.11.2023 07:20

Estonian minister of Interior Lauri Läänemets from the Social Democratic Party (SDE) issued a warning on Thursday to stateless residents in Estonia. He cautioned them that if they accept Russian citizenship as part of Russia's recent campaign, their Estonian residence permits will not be extended, and they could face deportation.

On October 26, Russia initiated a citizenship campaign targeting individuals who do not reside in the Russian Federation and are not familiar with its history or language. The campaign makes them eligible for Russian citizenship, as explained by the minister during the government's weekly press conference.

This primarily concerns individuals in Estonia who hold "grey passports" and lack Estonian citizenship. Russia is offering them citizenship on favorable terms as part of this campaign. The minister views this as an attempt to exert influence and create instability not only in the Baltic States but also in former Soviet Union regions. The Estonian response is straightforward: If someone opts for Russian citizenship, they must be aware of the consequences. Estonian authorities have established certain conditions for Russian citizens to stay in Estonia today, either on a permanent or temporary basis. In other words, if someone currently holds an Estonian residence permit as a "grey passport" holder and decides to take Russian citizenship (from the aggressor state), their permit may eventually be revoked.

Estonia has no intention of increasing the number of Russian citizens within its borders, and there is a concern that those who obtain Russian citizenship may not remain loyal to Estonia. The minister's recommendation is clear: Anyone considering this move, even for pragmatic reasons, should expect their residence permit to be revoked and the possibility of being expelled from Estonia.

It's worth noting that around 80,000 stateless individuals still reside in Estonia. Furthermore, Estonia had banned Russian citizens from entering its borders shortly after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

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