MPs ease granting citizenship to foreign volunteers fighting for Ukraine

On June 6, the Verkhovna Rada passed the law ‘On amendments to some laws of Ukraine concerning the legal status of foreigners and stateless persons who participated in the defense of the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine’.

230 deputies voted for adopting the law, news agency UNIAN reports.

The new law will allow foreign volunteers to get the citizenship of Ukraine and prevent their being extradited to ‘unfriendly countries’ which have not been named so far.

It refers to foreign citizens and stateless persons who provided assistance to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, other security and volunteer units in the antiterrorist operation zone. Their stay in Ukraine will be considered legitimate, including in cases when their passports expired.

The law provides that foreigners who fought for Ukraine could not be forcibly returned to their country of origin or a third country, which committed an act of aggression against Ukraine, or to a country that does not recognize the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, or refuses to recognize the offenses against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, and in particular, voted against the UN GA resolution on the territorial integrity of Ukraine as of 27 March, 2014.

Thus, Belarus is also included in the list since its delegation to the UN followed the path taken by the Kremlin.

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According to Belsat TV information, up to 500 Belarusians might have taken part in the conflict in Donbas on the side of Ukraine since 2014. In fear of being prosecuted, these people cannot return to Belarus, as criminal cases were initiated against most of them.

In April 2016, the House of Representatives of Belarus made amendments to the legislation of the country, including Article ‘Mercenarism’. If earlier this article was enforced only against Belarusian citizens who were paid for their participation in military operations in another country, now the state considers mercenaries even people who went to war not for money.

According to the Belarusian Interior Ministry, the country’s law enforcement agencies opened over 130 criminal cases against citizens of Belarus who fought or are fighting in Donbas.

In Belarus there should be no place for people fighting in Ukraine, president Alyaksandr Lukashenka said earlier.

“I see that some so-called brave people, militants who fought in Donbas, are posing with weapons in Minsk! You are well aware of Belarus’ attitude to such warriors. You must immediately sort the things out! There should not be any show-offs and militants in the country!” Lukashenka ordered the police and the KGB.

As Belsat journalistic investigations show, Belarusian citizens constitute the third largest national group in the hostilities in Donbas. According to the most conservative estimates, the total number of Belarusian participants in the conflict reaches 1,000.

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