The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine voted for the bill, which provides for a simplified procedure for issuing Ukrainian passports to foreigners who fought in the Donbas. Among them are dozens of immigrants from Chechnya, Ingushetia and other republics of the North Caucasus.

After voting in parliament, amendments to the law “On the legal status of foreigners and stateless persons” must be approved by the President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Even before the decision of the Verkhovna Rada, the newly elected leader of the Ukrainian state declared the need to issue passports to foreigners who came to help Kyiv in a difficult situation. “We will provide shelter and assistance to everyone – everyone who is ready to fight shoulder to shoulder with us for our and your freedom,” Zelensky wrote then. Admittedly this was a post on a social network before the inauguration. Since then, he has signed a number of decrees on granting of Ukrainian citizenship to the immigrants from Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and other countries. However, among those who received a Ukrainian passport, which gives the right to freely enter the European Union, there were no volunteer soldiers.

In this regard, the leader of the Ukrainian radical nationalists, MP Andrei Biletsky, called on Zelensky to give citizenship to soldiers of volunteer battalions, and activists of his party “National Corps” picketed the center of Kiev. Biletsky is a co-author of the aforementioned draft law providing for a simplified procedure for obtaining a Ukrainian passport by the participants in the Ukrainian-Russian war. Deputy Igor Lutsenko worked on the document together with him. In the commentary to VAYFOND, Mr. Lutsenko noted that the draft law was developed long before the extradition to Russia (September 2018) of Ingush Timur Tumgoev (who had fought in the Donbas).

“But if it were not for Tumgoev’s extradition, the draft law would have remained out of the deputies’ view for a long time, ” he noted. Lutsenko said: the draft law directly prohibits the Ukrainian authorities to extradite citizens who helped Ukraine in repelling Russian aggression to the country of origin. “Of course, extradition supporters may say that there are international treaties signed by Ukraine, which oblige to perform extradition, but the new law will become an instrument of pressure on the migration service to protect volunteers,” noted the co-author of the law. He expressed confidence that the document will provide an opportunity to apply for citizenship to those fighters who fled from their homeland and entered the territory of Ukraine illegally. To do this, applicants for Ukrainian citizenship will have to apply to the migration service to legalize and obtain a temporary document confirming the legality of their stay in the country.

According to the Kyiv lawyer Oleksiy Skorbach, who is known for his work in protecting the rights of volunteer battalion fighters, it is the migration service that will remain the main source of danger for his former and current clients.“The law enforcers – the migration service and the citizenship office of the presidential administration — are those who have humiliated our foreign defenders in every way,” Skorbach recalled. He notes that the new law regulates the legal situation of those volunteer fighters who have at least some documents. “But there are so many cases, especially typical for the first years of the war, when people lost documents, they will not be able to apply for the paperwork (for citizenship – auth.), cases when people left the volunteer battalions that were subsequently disbanded,” the lawyer named the situations unresolved by the new law.

In accordance with the new procedure, to obtain a blue passport with a Ukrainian Trident, the applicant must confirm his participation in the volunteer battalion with a document signed by the commander or prove his participation in the war against the Russian occupants in the court. This procedure applies also to those who did not fight, but provided volunteer or “other” assistance to the Ukrainian troops in the Donbas.The procedure for implementing the provisions of the law should be developed and implemented by the Ukrainian government. According to the co-author of the law, deputy Igor Lutsenko, deputies will have to control this work of the Cabinet of Ministers, since practice shows: red tape and sometimes outright sabotage is a common thing for officials.

Adam Osmayev, the former commander of the volunteer battalion named after Johar Dudayev, is in Ukraine since 2011. He came to the country legally. He sat in the remand prison on the falsified charges of preparing the assassination of Vladimir Putin, fought in the Donbas against the Russian troops and the pro-Russian separatists, twice survived the assassination attempts, in 2015 led the Dudayev international battalion. His participation in the war is documented. So far he was unable to obtain Ukrainian citizenship. Osmayev believes that the new law, after being signed by the President of Ukraine, will help solving the problem of obtaining a Ukrainian passport not only for him, but for many other people from the Caucasus. “I like this law very much, it solves problems for many volunteers,” he said in the commentary to VAYFOND.

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