Yesterday the big news in Russia was the adoption (by the State Duma) of an oath of citizenship. Prior to this, people could become Russian citizens without taking an oath, I think they just had to sign something, and eventually somebody tossed a Russian passport at them. But getting to that point was a difficult process, as they were forced to obtain the permission of their current country of citizenship.
A committee in the Duma has been working on this oath for several months now. There were several variants of the proposed oath; each political party, of course, had their own proposed variant.
And since we’re on the topic of the Duma, a brief civics lesson is in order: The current structure of the Russian government was introduced in 1993 following the Yeltsin-Gorbachov coup and subsequent constitutional crisis. Following the model of most bourgeois democracies, two houses of Parliament were introduced, an Upper and a Lower. The Upper (the “Federation Council”) is sort of a Deep-State type shadow government to keep the rubes in check.
The Lower House aka the Russian State Duma (abbreviated as Gosduma) is the one we’re talking about in this piece. The Chairman of the Gosduma, who is also known as the Speaker, is a man named Vyacheslav Volodin. Volodin announced back in June that a committee was working feverishly on the oath, and he invited anybody who was interested, including from the broad public, to provide input. A key individual working on this committee was Pavel Krasheninnikov, a deputy of the governing United Russia Party. Krasheninnikov’s vision was to create an oath that reflected the individual’s personal responsibility as a citizen, as well as make the oath a binding legal contract. He also specified that the oath should be laconic and easy to understand.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has also suggested that the citizenship-granting process become more of a ceremony, like in other countries, and not just a casual “here you go…”
Taking these notes into account, the Gosduma has come up with an oath and a suggested ceremony. Here is my English translation of the text of the new oath:
“I, [Name-Patronymic-Surname] voluntarily and consciously accepting citizenship in the Russian Federation, do swear: To uphold the Constitution and the laws of the Russian Federation, the rights and freedoms of her citizens; to fulfill the obligations of a citizenship of the Russian Federation for the good of the state and society; to defend the freedom and independence of the Russian Federation; to be true to Russia, to respect her culture, history and traditions.”
According to Krasheninnikov, there were over 90 possible suggestions (coming from Duma deputies as well as common people) of which the above wording was hammered out in committee. Pavel is proud of the laconical wording of the oath. It packs all that is needed in there without a lot of frippery. Compare, for example, the flowery and insidious Citizenship Oath of the United States, which every naturalized citizen must take:
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
The American oath is much more totalitarian, as one can see at a glance. Putting aside its religious requirement (“So help me God”) which would seem to disqualify atheists from citizenship, it requires new citizens to serve in the Roman Legions American military at the will of the potentate. The Russian oath is so much more liberal, it doesn’t mention God, and doesn’t even specify that you can’t serve a foreign prince or potentate. And, by the way, most members of the American government are in clear violation of their own citizenship rules, since most of these politicians serve the House of Saud, and if he isn’t a foreign prince and potentate, then the word has no meaning.
Who Wants To Sign Up?
Be that as it may, Russia now has a citizenship oath. And just in the nick of time… As this other piece from yesterday reports, there are over a million Ukrainians (not necessarily ethnic Ukrainians, just people currently holding Ukrainian passports) who seek to acquire Russian citizenship. These people, a combination of political and economic refugees from the Ukrainian government coup and civil war, have been waiting a long time to resolve their status and are starting to get desperate.
According to our old friend, Pavel Krasheninnikov, the Gosduma wants to make it easier for these refugees to acquire legal status. “We are proposing the following scheme: Ukrainian citizens will sign a piece of paper stating that they renounce their Ukrainian citizenship. This document will be notarized, one copy will remain in the Russian Immigration Service; a second notarized copy will be mailed to the Ukrainian government.” The nice thing about this idea is that the refugees themselves won’t have to work their way through the Ukrainian bureaucracy, as previously they were forced to do, in order to relieve themselves of their previous citizenship. This will help them acquire legal status in Russia without all the wear and tear on the old nervous system.
Previously it was like a nightmare for these people. First they had to endure the horrors of Ukrainian totalitarianism; followed by an impenetrable wall of red tape once they arrived in Russia. According to Olga Kirillova, who heads the Committee on Migration Policies for the Russian government: It was written into Russian law that a person seeking Russian citizenship needed the consent of the foreign government they were renouncing! One can see at a glance how this would not work out so well, if that foreign government is a hostile one, which sensible people are fleeing in droves.
Again, according to Olga: Prior to 2015, the Ukrainian government used to more or less let people go if they wished to. But in the past year or so, the Ukrainians hardened their hearts and stopped letting people go. A measley 156 people were allowed to leave. Given that a million ex-Ukrainians want to be Russian citizens, something had to done. The new system described by Krasheninnikov sounds like a good way around this conundrum. Olga again: “A million human beings who happen to be Ukrainian citizens have been waiting for this decision.”