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Prime minister confirms Estonian residents taking Russian citizenship may be expelled

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform).
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) has confirmed that the government is looking at options for deporting any permanent residents of Estonia who choose to take Russian citizenship, in response to a letter from a Center Party MP, daily Postimees reports.

Postimees' Russian-language page reports that the prime minister said that: "For example, the Russian Federation has rehearsed attacks on the Baltic states during military maneuvers (referring to the "Zapad" exercises – ed.), constantly presents, via official channels, a hostile and false narratives about Western nations and, most recently, has reinstated the practice of orchestrating illegal migration into the EU."

Kallas a former lawyer, called to mind Estonia's status as a democratic nation following the rule of law, noting that revoking any long-term residence permit is provided for in § 241 of the Aliens Act, in cases where that long-term resident and foreign national poses a clear and present threat to public order and national security.

"In addition, when an individual who resides in Estonia opts to obtain citizenship of the Russian Federation at a time when Russia is attacking the Ukrainian state and its people indicates that, if necessary, as part of a general mobilization, they are ready to join the Russian Army and participate in those attacks on Ukraine," Kallas went on, calling this already a security threat and a clear signal which cannot be ignored – indeed the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) is obliged to investigate whether such an act constitutes a statement of support for state-sponsored terrorism and an action directed against Estonia and its allies.

Any individual who has resided in Estonia for a long period of time will have had plenty of opportunity to gain a true grasp of the realities of Russia's attack on Ukraine, Kallas said, an attack which has violated all principles of international law, while Russia has been condemned by bot the Riigikogu and the Council of Europe as a terrorism-supporting state.

Kallas had been responding to a letter from MP Aleksandr Chaplõgin (Center), who called the statement made by Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets to the effect that "disturbing," adding that this has caused angst among many long-term residents of Estonia, and inquiring both about the legal basis for the cliam, and whether Läänemets' statement was the official government line on the issue.

The original Postimees piece is here.

Permanent residents in Estonia may vote in local elections.

The issue mainly pertains to stateless persons, also known as persons of indeterminate citizenship, or more colloquially, gray passport holders.

These are overwhelmingly ethnic Russian people or Russian speakers who hold citizenship of neither Estonia nor Russia, nor anywhere else, but have permanent residency in Estonia.

Numbering around 80,000 in Estonia, they are issued a gray passport as a travel document.

Minister Läänemets said in early November last year that any stateless residents who accept Russian citizenship will likely face deportation and the revocation of their Estonian residency rights.

This followed an official citizenship drive launched by the Russian Federation in late October, aimed at the Russian diaspora including gray passport holders in Estonia.

Läänemets said the program offered Russian citizenship on "favorable terms," and was aimed at a destabilization of Estonia and the region.

Lauri Läänemets (SDE). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Estonia banned Russian citizens from crossing its borders soon after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022; Läänemets said that that invasion had had the opposite effect on Russian citizens and stateless persons residing in Estonia, citing data that the number of Russian citizens applying for Estonian citizenship had more than doubled, to 726, following the invasion.

An additional factor here would be the avoidance of liability in any new, large-scale mobilization rounds the Russian Federation may put in place.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Postimees

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