PPA to issue new Estonian passport to Alli Rutto ({{commentsTotal}})

Abkhazian-Estonian Alli Rutto.
Abkhazian-Estonian Alli Rutto. Source: Rutto family/private library

Following weeks of deliberations, the Ministry of the Interior, the Chancellor of Justice and the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) ultimately decided to issue a new Estonian passport of limited validity to Abkhazian-Estonian Alli Rutto. Minister of the Interior Katri Raik (SDE) likewise apologised to Rutto and other Estonians in her situation.

Following weeks of deliberations, the Ministry of the Interior, the Chancellor of Justice and the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) ultimately decided to issue a new Estonian passport of limited validity to Abkhazian-Estonian Alli Rutto. Minister of the Interior Katri Raik (SDE) likewise apologised to Rutto and other Estonians in her situation.

The same decision will apply to all others who were issued an Estonian passport from 2003-2015 but following a change in administrative practice were declared to have been given birthright Estonian citizenship by mistake, and who fit all other conditions as outlined in the Citizenship Act, the Ministry of the Interior announced on Monday.

"I apologise to Mrs. Rutto and all other Estonians who got caught in the trap of changes to administrative practice," Raik said. "If the state has issued a passport and five years later they say that it isn't legal, the person [in question] isn't to blame for this. Our state is and has to be humane first and foremost, and I am very glad that Mrs. Rutto can now come spend Christmas with her loved ones."

Nonetheless, the minister will not currently move forward with the amendment to the Citizenship Act drawn up by the Ministry of the Interior.

"The issue of citizenship deserves comprehensive debate, so let's give legislators time to discuss this, and have a public debate as well regarding whether and how the Citizenship Act should be modernised."

The issuing of passports of limited validity only applies to those individuals who between the years 2003-2015 were declared Estonian citizens by birth via forebears who opted for Estonian citizenship and who, following a change in administrative practice, were declared to have received Estonian citizenship by birth by mistake. According to ministry data, this affects some 200 people.

Chancellor of Justice: Those affected can't be made to suffer

Last week, the Ministry of the Interior published the results of an expert legal analysis conducted by legal scholars of the University of Tartu according to which the state made a mistake in declaring Abkhazian-Estonian Alli Rutto a citizen of the Republic of Estonia in 2013.

According to the analysis, the descendants of optants who did not return to Estonia are not legitimate citizens, and in the current legal area should be regarded as foreigners, said Ruth Annus, director of the Citizenship and Migration Policy Department of the Ministry of the Interior.

In response, Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise said that those who have already been declared citizens of Estonia should not have to suffer as a result of legal changes.

"This is a complicated legal matter on which historians' and jurists' positions have changed over time," Madise told ERR, adding that it may not even be possible to reach a single, indisputably correct conclusion based on the current facts and related context. "In a situation like this, however, those who have already been declared citizens of the Republic of Estonia by birth and who have been issued an Estonian passport cannot be made to suffer."

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Editor: Aili Vahtla



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