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Authorization of residence: risks for people from Crimea

Crimeans who kept their Ukrainian citizenship, became strangers on their own land. People who do not want to leave their homes have to obtain an authorization of residence from Russian Federation. However, this authorization can be a risk for Crimeans. Sergiy Zaets, lawyer of Regional center of human rights, explains what are the problems linked to authorization of residence in Crimea.

The specific situation in Crimea creates a lot of legal issues for ordinary people. When a foreigner comes to Ukraine, we have strict regulation on what she/he must do to become a resident. But in Crimea, citizens of Ukraine are now declared aliens. They don’t understand why special regulation must apply to them. They didn’t move anywhere. They didn’t change countries. They don’t want to live in Russia. The changes occurred against their will and now they have to deal with this situation.

The problem is, there are no provisions in national legislation to address this type of issues.

The State has to care for its citizens. But it has no obligations towards foreigners. Moreover, foreign citizens are not always very welcomed. To obtain the resident status, foreigners have to pass difficult and specific procedures (visa, registration, work contract etc.). The length of their stay in the country is also often determined and limited. They cannot receive the whole set of social benefits and have in general less rights than citizens.

Someforeignersorapatrides manage to get a permanent resident status, but is quite rare. In this case they can apply for all social benefits on the same level as ordinary citizens. However, the number of these “lucky guys” is very limited. For example, Russia has special quotas on the number of foreigners the country can accept. Priority is given to highly-qualified professionals.

What does it mean for Crimeans? What are the risks? As long as they stay on their land, don’t accept the imposed Russian regulations and refuse to obtain an authorization of residence, they are safe. There are no legal reasons for forcing them to leave Crimea. Moreover, Russian legislation on foreigners cannot be apply to them.

However, as soon as Ukrainian citizens in Crimea ask for authorization of residence, they will be treated as foreigners. All restrictive Russian rules will be applied to them.

It is important to remember about this risk when looking for legal solutions. Some people think that if they obtain an authorization of residence, it will help to resolve their administrative and bureaucratic issues. But on the contrary it will create more difficulties.

The absence of relevant legislation adapted to the specific Crimean situation makes it difficult for ordinary people to live a normal life. The authorization of residence cancels opportunities of employment (foreigners have to pass a special procedure to be employed in Russian Federation) and also cancels social benefits. Life is not becoming any easier for Ukrainians in Crimea.

As long as Russia will refuse to adopt a special status for Ukrainian in Crimea, people should think twice before getting an authorization of residence.

Contact information
Consultations are provided in Kyiv: Horkogo str. 38-A, office 17
Contacts: Regional center of human rights +38 (044) 284 30 33
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