Sergei Bakeshin analysed for Fontanka the decree on dual citizenship for government officials

Sergei Bakeshin - Senior Associate

On 25th of August, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree allowing Russian citizens to enter state and municipal service if they have another citizenship, if renouncing foreign citizenship is not possible. It should be recalled that the amendments to the Constitution contained an explicit ban on dual citizenship for officials. As explained by Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the decree will affect only a few hundred government officials, and each case will be reviewed personally by the President or by a special commission set up under him.

Sergei Bakeshin, Senior Associate at Maxima Legal, told Fontanka that the simplest example of who could be affected by the new decree is Ukrainian citizens who lived in Crimea and accepted Russian citizenship. “In addition, the legislation of a country may not provide for the renunciation of citizenship at all or without simultaneously accepting another citizenship. Renunciation of a country’s citizenship may require a personal appearance before its competent authority, which may be difficult to ensure during a coronavirus pandemic. To clarify such circumstances, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have to provide the necessary information,” – said the expert.

Sergei reminded that the ban established by the Constitution does not apply to all officials, but only to certain categories: federal ministers, heads of Russian regions, judges, prosecutors, etc. The presidential decree cannot change the Constitution, so it will not apply to them.

“The request to allow a person with foreign citizenship to continue in public service must be made by 15th of November, and the authorisation is valid for three years. So in any case, this mechanism is currently formulated as a temporary measure,” – the specialist added.

Commenting on the fierce reaction of Fontanka readers to the presidential decree, Sergei Bakeshin noted that “there is a special kind of legal nihilism to which lawyers are affected. They know the law but believe that it can always be changed and that it is enough to formally observe its letter rather than follow its spirit”.

To read the full article (in Russian) please visit Fontanka website >>>