Russian strongman Vladimir Putin signed a decree that threatens those living on Russia-annexed territories with deportation if they decline to apply for Russian citizenship.
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The decree, which was reported by Russian news agencies on Friday, covers four Ukrainian regions that Russia has unilaterally claimed as its own and partially controls: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
The document sets out ways that Ukrainian citizens or those holding passports issued by Russia-backed breakaway republics, and who live in the four regions, can start the process of becoming Russian citizens or legalize their status with the Russian authorities.
However, it also says that anyone who does not take such action by July 1, 2024, will be regarded as a foreign citizen, something that will leave them at risk of being deported from the territory that Moscow considers part of Russia.
Russia occupied a part of Ukraine and now wants to deport anyone who’s not Russian, not to mention how many people they've killed or forced to move already!
And when only Russians are left there, they will hold another "honest" referendum. Ukraine didn’t start deporting Russians… pic.twitter.com/aQLRISBcr6
— Victoria (@victoriaslog) April 27, 2023
The decree also allows for the deportation of people from the four regions who are deemed a threat to national security or take part in “unauthorized meetings.”
Russification is a form of cultural assimilation in which non-Russians are forced to give up their culture and language in favor of those of Russia.
Kyiv says it will yet retake all four areas and has accused Moscow of trying to browbeat its citizens into accepting Russian citizenship.
Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar this week accused Russia of trying to change what she called “the ethnic make-up” of the occupied territory by bringing in settlers from remote parts of Russia while deporting people suspected of being pro-Ukrainian.