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Russian President Vladimir Putin signed on April 27 decree Establishing a simplified procedure for issuing Russian passports to residents of Russian-occupied parts of the Zaporizka, Khersonska, Donetska, and Luhanska regions of Ukraine. The decree states that Ukrainian citizens or those holding “passports” issued by the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic will be considered foreign nationals if they fail to obtain Russian passports by July 1, 2024. These new rules leave out Ukrainian citizens. Real risk of being deported from their own homes in violation of international law.

The decree is the next step in the fast-track “passportization” process Russia has put in place since February 2022 for residents of Ukraine’s occupied territories. Those who hesitate to apply for a Russian passport quickly come under the scrutiny of the occupying authorities. In form of Crimea After the Russian occupation in 2014, they can expect to endure threats and face discrimination, including access to medical care or social services.

A resident of Tokmak district told me that soldiers came to her house six times. “They asked why we didn’t apply for Russian passports,” she said. They searched his property and took the phones of his family members for “security checks”.

Hanna, originally from Melitopol, said her relatives, who still live there, are receiving constant threats. “The community leader told them that if they did not obtain passports, their land would be confiscated and the entire family, including the young children, would be deported.”

The occupying authorities have a list of “unreliable” persons, which includes people who have not registered to receive social payments or applied for a passport. They are perceived as likely to resist occupation and are subjected to regular checks and other pressures.

For months, Russia has been Promoting Its reconstruction efforts in the city of Mariupol, which has been badly damaged by the war. Lyudmila, whose apartment was badly damaged during fighting in March 2022, said money and materials for repair works are only given to the owner if they can present a Russian passport.

As an occupying power, Russia is bound to comply International humanitarian law, The occupying power does not acquire sovereignty over the occupied territory and must respect generally applicable laws. Civilians in occupied territories retain all protections provided by international law, and cannot be forced to renounce their rights. Russia has international legal obligations to ensure that the rights of everyone in the occupied territory are protected.

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