Russia reportedly contemplates ban on issuing passports abroad

Novaya Gazeta has been made aware of Russian Foreign Ministry plans to temporarily suspend consular services for Russian citizens based abroad, it said Thursday.

The draft proposal would introduce the ban this year, Novaya Gazeta wrote, meaning Russians living abroad would have to return to the country to obtain or renew their passports.

The Russian Foreign Ministry refuted the report in a statement on Telegram, calling it “a flat-out lie”.

UN figures from 2021 indicate that about 10 million Russians live outside the country. A further 700,000 Russians have left the country since 2022 due to the war in Ukraine and the subsequent partial mobilisation.

It is thought that only about 150,000 of those have been granted temporary residence permits abroad, while only 2,000 out of the 15,000 Russians who have applied for political asylum in the European Union in 2022 have had their cases approved, Novaya Gazeta said.

The ban bears a striking resemblance to a policy put in place in Belarus last year, when its leader Alexander Lukashenko imposed a ban on passports being issued, renewed or replaced at Belarusian diplomatic missions abroad. Belarusian opposition forces promptly proposed an alternative passport for the country’s citizens in exile.

On Tuesday, Ukraine announced it was restricting consular services for men abroad eligible for mobilisation in an effort to boost its conscription numbers.

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