Yle: Finland's Russian Embassy refusing applications to drop citizenship

The Russian Embassy in Finland, located in the Kaivopuisto neighborhood of Helsinki.
The Russian Embassy in Finland, located in the Kaivopuisto neighborhood of Helsinki. Source: Sasha Silvala/Yle

The Russian Embassy in Helsinki recently announced it has temporarily stopped accepting applications from Russian citizens seeking to renounce their citizenship. While currently legal, several politicians have raised questions regarding dual Finnish-Russian citizenship specifically, Finnish public broadcaster Yle reports.

Echoing a similar situation in January in which its Tallinn embassy likewise temporarily stopped accepting such applications, the Russian Embassy in Finland announced on its homepage Saturday that it has temporarily stopped accepting applications for the renunciation of Russian citizenship, Yle wrote Sunday.

These measures are related to legislative changes to Russian citizenship rules, according to which a non-Russian parent's consent is no longer required if a Russian parent wants their child to hold Russian citizenship.

Several politicians call for Russian-Finnish citizenship ban

Dual citizenship was legalized in Finland in 2003. In recent times, however, several Finnish leaders have raised concerns and even called for an outright ban of Russian-Finnish dual citizenship specifically.

Before becoming finance minister earlier this year, Finns Party chair Riikka Purra raised the topic in several speeches last year, arguing that dual Finnish-Russian citizenship shouldn't be allowed due to developments in Russia.

Last month, MP, former Finnish Defense Intelligence Agency (PVTIEDL) director and retired general Pekka Toveri (NCP) said that the status of Russian dual citizens in Finland should be examined due to security risks.

"Russian legislation requires that a Russian citizen must help the country's security authorities," Toveri told the NCP-owned news outlet Verkkouutiset. "This is not on a voluntary basis, and in their view, Russian citizenship is always the primary citizenship and in practice outweighs any other citizenship."

Speaking to the Lännen Media newspaper group two weeks ago, front-runner presidential candidate and former foreign minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) acknowledged that he considered it possible to ban dual Finnish-Russian citizenship, stressing that Russia does not recognize dual nationality and considers dual Russian citizens to be exclusively citizens of the Russian Federation.

Rival, NCP presidential candidate and former prime minister Alexander Stubb, meanwhile, hasn't spoken out about the issue recently. Yle noted, however, that as MP in 2017, Stubb expressed concerns over discrimination against Finland's approximately 100,000 dual citizens in response to then-defense minister Jussi Niinistö (Finns) voicing his own concerns about possible divided loyalties among dual Finnish-Russian citizens serving in the Finnish Defense Forces (FDF).

Stubb's wife and two adult children are themselves dual Finnish-British citizens, the public broadcaster noted.

Estonia's paradoxical dual citizens

Under the Citizenship Act, Estonian law does not currently allow for dual citizenship.

Chapter II, section 8 of the Estonian Constitution, however, provides that "Every child with a parent who is an Estonian citizen has the right to Estonian citizenship by birth" and that "No one shall be deprived of Estonian citizenship acquired by birth."

The same section even provides that anyone who has forfeited their Estonian citizenship as a minor is entitled to its restoration. Thus, unless you voluntarily renounce your Estonian citizenship as an adult, it cannot be stripped from you.

As the Constitution in Estonia has supremacy over even national law, the practical loophole this creates allows for Estonian citizens who are the children of at least one Estonian citizen parent, i.e. are citizens by birth via jus sanguinis, to hold dual or even more citizenships – whether the non-Estonian citizenship is acquired via jus sanguinis or via jus soli, i.e. the right to citizenship granted by born within the territory of a state, or through nationalization, if permitted by the relevant other state.

As a result, thousands of dual Estonian citizens exist worldwide, including in Estonia and across the diaspora – and among them are dual Estonian-Russian citizens.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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