Tag Archives: citizenship

U.S. lawmakers send Snowden to war

Brussels 27.09.2022 American officials and Republican and Democrat lawmakers responded to the news of granting Russian citizenship to Edward Snowden by saying he should now be drafted and put on the frontline to fight against Ukraine.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told a briefing: ”Perhaps the only thing that has changed is… apparently now he may well be conscripted to fight in the reckless war in Ukraine.’

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham said: ‘Now that Edward Snowden has been granted full Russian citizenship, I expect he will be on the battlefield in Ukraine fighting for Putin any day now. Or could it be that he will be exempt while other Russian citizens are told to fight in a war of aggression on Putin’s behalf?

President Vladimir Putin on Monday, September 26, granted Russian citizenship to U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, 39, who exposed massive surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) and was granted refuge by Moscow, while fleeing to Latin America from Hong-Kong.

Snowden, who is wanted in the U.S. on espionage charges, is one of 75 foreign nationals listed by the decree as being granted Russian citizenship.

The former NSA staffer has been living in Russia since 2013 to escape prosecution in the U.S. after sharing classified documents detailing government surveillance programs with the British newspaper, The Guardian.

He was granted permanent residency in 2020 and said at the time that he planned to apply for Russian citizenship, without renouncing his U.S. citizenship.

Russia first granted him asylum in 2014 and have refused calls to extradite him to the U.S.

Mélenchon: Assange French citizenship

Brussels 19.06.2022 Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of France’s left coalition NUPES: “If I’m Prime Minister on Monday, Julian will be a naturalised French citizen and we will ask for him to be sent to us. Mr. Assange should be decorated for his services to the French people.”

While the UK Home Secretary Prity Patel approved the extradition of the WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to the US, France’s far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon promises grant him French nationality if he’s appointed Prime minister.

The British Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday, Juin 17, approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder and whistleblower Julian Assange to the U.S.

Last December, the U.K. The High Court in London ruled that Assange could be extradited from Britain to the U.S. to face espionage charges. This week the Home Office has signed the extradition order for Assange, which means that he could be sentenced for 175 in the State of Virginia, and as political prisoner vanish forever behind the barbed wire in “gulag”.

In a statement, a Home Office spokesperson said: “In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange. Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”

EU: Russians stripped of “golden” passports

Brussels 28.03.2022 In a recommendation issued today, the Commission is urging Member States to immediately repeal any existing investor citizenship schemes and to ensure strong checks are in place to address the risks posed by investor residence schemes. The Commission has frequently and consistently raised its serious concerns about investor citizenship and residence schemes and the inherent risks they pose. Today’s recommendation forms part of the Commission’s broader policy to take determined action on these schemes. The current context of the Russian aggression against Ukraine is once again highlighting these risks. (Image: illustration).

Some Russian or Belarusian nationals who are subject to sanctions or are significantly supporting the war in Ukraine might have acquired EU citizenship or privileged access to the EU, including to travel freely in the Schengen area, under these schemes. To address these immediate risks, the Commission is also recommending today that Member States assess whether citizenship granted under a ‘golden passport’ scheme to Russian or Belarusian nationals on an EU sanctions list in connection to the war in Ukraine should be withdrawn. Residence permits granted under an investor residence scheme to Russian or Belarusian nationals subject to sanctions should be immediately withdrawn, following an individual assessment and in accordance with the principle of proportionality, fundamental rights and Member States’ national law.

These measures should apply to Russian or Belarusian nationals significantly supporting the war in Ukraine.

“European values are not for sale. We consider that the sale of citizenship through ‘golden passports’ is illegal under EU law and poses serious risks to our security. It opens the door to corruption, money laundering and tax avoidance. All Member States concerned should end their investor citizenship schemes immediately. In addition, they should assess whether they should revoke any ‘golden passports’ already granted to sanctioned individuals and others significantly supporting Putin’s war” said Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Didier Reynders.

“The right to travel freely within the Schengen area is among our greatest assets. We need strong checks to make sure this right is not abused. Golden residence permits issued to Russians and Belarusians under EU sanctions should be revoked. Now more than ever, in the face of war, we must do everything to ensure that Russians and Belarusians under sanctions and those supporting Putin’s war of aggression cannot buy their way into the EU” said Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson.

Investor Citizenship Schemes

Every person that holds the nationality of an EU Member State is at the same time an EU citizen. EU citizenship automatically gives the right to free movement, access to the EU internal market, and the right to vote and be elected in European and local elections. This affects all Member States, and the inherent risks of such schemes have once again been highlighted in the context of the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Today’s recommendation stresses that:

Any Member State still operating investor citizenship schemes needs to terminate them immediately. Such schemes are not compatible with the principle of sincere cooperation and with the concept of EU citizenship enshrined in the EU treaties. On 20 October 2020, the Commission opened infringements against two Member States regarding their investor citizenship scheme. In addition, the Commission has been urging another Member State to proceed with ending its scheme. Two Member States abolished their schemes in the meantime or are in the process of doing so.
The Member States concerned should carry out assessments in order to determine whether citizenship previously granted to Russian or Belarusian nationals subject to sanctions or significantly supporting the war in Ukraine should be withdrawn. While carrying out the assessments, the Member States concerned are to take into account the principles established by the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding the loss of EU citizenship.

Investor Residence Schemes

Investor residence schemes raise inherent security, money laundering, tax evasion and corruption risks for Member States and for the EU as a whole. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has once again underlined these risks.

In the recommendation issued today, the Commission asks Member States to:

Establish and conduct strict checks before issuing any residence permit by investment: Member States should take all necessary measures to prevent investor residence schemes from posing security, money laundering, tax evasion and corruption risks. This includes establishing and carrying out checks related to the conditions of residence and security before issuing such residence permits, and verifying whether residence is continuous.
Immediately withdraw or refuse the renewal of the residence permits granted under an investor residence scheme to Russian or Belarusian nationals who are subject to EU sanctions in connection to the war in Ukraine, following an assessment.

The same measure should also apply to those significantly supporting the war in Ukraine or other related activities of the Russian government or Lukashenko regime breaching international law.
Suspend the issuance of residence permits under investor residence schemes to all Russian and Belarusian nationals.

All measures need to be applied in compliance with the principle of proportionality, with fundamental rights and with Member States’ national law.

Donbass 1M residents receive Russian passport

Brussels 25.04.2021 The number of residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk self-proclaimed People’s Republics who have received Russian citizenship in a simplified manner may almost double by the end of 2021 – up to 1 mln people, according to Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots Viktor Vodolatsky.

“Today, there are 538,000 citizens of Russia living in the territory of Donbass. According to the forecasts that exist today, and according to the statements that exist today, by the end of this year, up to 1 mln residents of Donbass will become citizens of the Russian Federation,” Vodolatsky said.

In two years it was possible to develop a system of clear interaction between the Main Directorate for Migration Issues of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia and the relevant services of the Lugansk and Donetsk for processing documents for obtaining Russian citizenship.

“At the beginning, there were certain difficulties, problems, people simply did not know and did not understand where to turn, which way to go. To date, all bureaucratic barriers have been removed, a very active process of obtaining Russian citizenship is in progress,” the State Duma deputy said.

On April 24, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree simplifying the process of obtaining Russian citizenship for residents of the Lugansk and Donetsk self-proclaimed People’s Republics. The first passports were issued on July 14.

MEPs refuse “golden” passports scheme

Brussels 22.10.2020 EU citizenship cannot be traded as a commodity, according to a majority of speakers, who want to end the “golden passports” schemes currently in place in some member states.

In a plenary debate with Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, MEPs stressed the inherent risks that these programmes give rise to, namely money laundering, tax evasion and corruption. They insisted that Europe must not have “a fast-track entrance for criminals”.

MEPs underlined that granting EU citizenship to third-country nationals without proper checks and transparency has negative consequences in other member states, eroding mutual trust and undermining common values.

Several speakers referred to the recent scandal in Cyprus, where high-ranking officials – including the Speaker of the national parliament – were secretly recorded offering to assist a fictional Chinese executive with a criminal record in getting a Cypriot passport through the national “citizenship by investment” scheme. They also acknowledge the Commission’s decision to open infringement procedures against Cyprus and Malta, though some complained that it has taken too long to act.

Some MEPs noted that the share of revenues from these programmes is significant for countries such as Cyprus, whilst many argued that EU values and rights should not be for sale.

Cyprus, Malta, and Bulgaria are the three EU countries where it is possible to get citizenship in exchange for an investment, the so-called “golden passports”. As many as 19 EU countries operate “residence by investment” programmes, known as “golden visas”.

In January 2019, the European Commission established a group of experts with representatives from all EU member states to develop common standards and guidelines in this area. After four meetings last year, the group has so far not met in 2020.

Cyprus and Malta risk EU lawsuits

20.10.2020 Today, the European Commission is launching infringement procedures against Cyprus and Malta by issuing letters of formal notice regarding their investor citizenship schemes also referred to as “golden passport” schemes.

The Commission considers that the granting by these Member States of their nationality – and thereby EU citizenship – in exchange for a pre-determined payment or investment and without a genuine link with the Member States concerned, is not compatible with the principle of sincere cooperation enshrined in Article 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union. This also undermines the integrity of the status of EU citizenship provided for in Article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Due to the nature of EU citizenship, such schemes have implications for the Union as a whole. When a Member State awards nationality, the person concerned automatically becomes an EU citizen and enjoys all rights linked to this status, such as the right to move, reside and work freely within the EU, or the right to vote in municipal elections as well as elections to the European Parliament. As a consequence, the effects of investor citizenship schemes are neither limited to the Member States operating them, nor are they neutral with regard to other Member States and the EU as a whole.

The Commission considers that the granting of EU citizenship for pre-determined payments or investments without any genuine link with the Member States concerned, undermines the essence of EU citizenship.

The Cypriot and Maltese governments have two months to reply to the letters of formal notice. If the replies are not satisfactory, the Commission may issue a Reasoned Opinion in this matter.

Investor citizenship schemes allow a person to acquire a new nationality based on payment or investment alone. These schemes are different to investor residence schemes (or “golden visas”), which allow third-country nationals, subject to certain conditions, to obtain a residence permit to live in an EU country.

The conditions for obtaining and forfeiting national citizenship are regulated by the national law of each Member State, subject to due respect for EU law. As nationality of a Member State is the only precondition for EU citizenship and access to rights conferred by the Treaties, the Commission has been closely monitoring investor schemes granting the nationality of Member States.

The Commission has frequently raised its serious concerns about investor citizenship schemes and certain risks that are inherent in such schemes. As mentioned in the Commission’s report of January 2019, those risks relate in particular to security, money laundering, tax evasion and corruption and the Commission has been monitoring wider issues of compliance with EU law raised by investor citizenship and residence schemes. In April 2020, the Commission wrote to the Member States concerned setting out its concerns and asking for further information about the schemes.

In a resolution adopted on 10 July 2020, the European Parliament reiterated its earlier calls on Member States to phase out all existing citizenship by investment (CBI) or residency by investment (RBI) schemes as soon as possible. As stated by President von der Leyen in the State of the Union Address of 16 September 2020, European values are not for sale.

The Commission is also writing again to Bulgaria to highlight its concerns regarding an investor citizenship scheme operated by that Member State and requesting further details. The Bulgarian government has one month to reply to the letter requesting further information, following which the Commission will decide on the next steps.

Bulgaria abandons passport for investment practice

Bulgaria plans to end practice offering wealthy foreigners to obtain citizenship against investment, the justice ministry said on the 22 of January,  adding the scheme had failed to bring any significant economic benefits.

The legal changes come a day after the media reports about the European Commission plans to warn against such an application schemes, which could be used by foreign organized crime groups to infiltrate the EU. It also increases the risk of money laundering, emblazonment, corruption and tax evasion.

Bulgaria is one of three EU countries, along with Cyprus and Malta, that currently grant citizenship against investment. The other 20 member states, including these three, also offer the resident permits on similar conditions.

EU warns against “selling passports” to wealthy

The European Commission will warn against selling the EU citizenship or residence to wealthy individuals, which could help foreign organized crime groups infiltrate the bloc and increase the risk of money laundering, corruption and tax evasion.

The warnings are included in a draft report that is expected to be published on January 23 by the European Union’s executive, according to Reuters.

Although individuals who purchase citizenship and residence in EU states can do it for legitimate reasons, the commission said the schemes posed “risks of infiltration of non-EU organized crime groups in the economy, money laundering, corruption and tax evasion.”

Malta (pictured), Cyprus and Bulgaria are the countries practicing attraction of wealth in exchange of the citizenship.

The issue of granting EU citizenship is regularity under fire of criticism, while countries issue passports to individuals in spite of their criminal records.

May vows to protect EU citizens rights

British Prime minister Theresa May ensure EU citizens rights in UK would be protected in case Brexit talks would not reach a deal.

“There are over 3 million EU citizens living in the UK who will be understandably worried about what the outcome of yesterday’s summit means for their future. I want to be clear with you that even in the event of no deal your rights will be protected.”

Gulen to be stripped of Turkey’s passport

Turkey announced it would strip 130 persons of citizenship for allerged militant links, including the U.S.-based cleric Muhammed Fethullah Gülen blamed for ingeneering last July’s coup, unless they all return to the country within three months.

 

In a list of what it called fugitives from justice, the interior ministry named Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers Faysal Sariyildiz and Tugba Hezer, and former HDP lawmaker Ozdal Ucer.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, has repeatedly denied involvement in the coup and publically condemned it.

 

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