On 20 January 2021, the lower house of the Russian parliament passed a bill prohibiting state and municipal officials from holding dual citizenship or a permanent residence permit in another country.
This change was proposed by President Vladimir Putin in late 2020 as part of the wider list of amendments prompted by the adoption of the new constitution earlier last year. The reasoning behind this bill was that being a dual citizen or having a right to permanently reside in two different countries meant swearing allegiance and having duties to two states simultaneously, whereas a Russian official should only have obligations to one country – the one he or she is working for.
Similar restrictions have already been enforced in relation to Russian heads of the regions, MPs, ministers and judges. The approved bill is a further step in broadening the circle of individuals who cannot hold dual citizenship or permanent residence permit of another state. The parliament speaker also suggested that this list may be extended further in the near future by adding heads of certain entities related to and/or working for the state.
The bill is now waiting to be passed by the upper house of the parliament and signed by the president. It should therefore become law in a relatively short space of time. This law will directly amend the Labour Code and, after it enters into force, current officials will have ten days to report any dual citizenship or foreign residence permit which they hold. They will be required to leave the service if they are unwilling to give up the second passport or residence permit.
This change has provoked debate amongst Russian lawyers and public activists. The measures have been called unnecessary, as they will also cover local officials of relatively low rank, who have no access to any sensitive state information. Not to mention that this amendment undermines the generally accepted principle that local authorities should be seen as independent of the state.
Experts are also concerned that this law might cause staff shortages. MPs are sure there will not be many current officials who hold dual citizenship or the right to permanently reside abroad. However, it is important to note that Russia has close ties with many CIS and former Soviet and part-Soviet countries, and many Russians hold dual citizenship on the basis of being born or having lived in such states for extended periods of time.
Liberals consider this restriction to be excessive and even violating individual’s rights, as people will face redundancy for a rather ambiguous reason. The supporters of this amendment point out that many countries, such as the Netherlands and Germany, have historically prohibited or significantly restricted dual citizenship. However, this differs significantly from slowly but surely depriving certain groups of nationals of their existing ties to particular states, including a right to reside there, or their employment.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.