Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to simplify the granting of Russian citizenship to Moldovans has been characterized in Chisinau by Prime Minister Dorin Recean as an attempt to recruit individuals for the war in Ukraine. But how many Russians are now seeking Moldovan citizenship?
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, until September 30, 2023, almost nine thousand Russians have applied for Moldovan citizenship, and the monthly average of applications nearly doubled after the invasion, according to the data from the Public Services Agency (ASP) obtained by Europa Libera, reported by DISINFO.MD.
Among all those applying for Moldovan citizenship, Russians form the largest group. In 2021, for example, the ASP registered 7,294 citizenship requests, of which 3,443 or 47% were from Russian citizens. After the large-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the proportion began to shift in favor of Russians: in the first 9 months of 2023, out of the total of 4,573 requests, 3,115 or 68% came from Russians.
The demand from Russians is increasing, but not everyone who has applied for Moldovan citizenship in recent years has received it. Europa Libera is still awaiting statistical data on citizenship granted in recent years. Refugee law expert Ion Bambuleac says that applying to receive a response can take around a year.
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Bambuleac told Europa Libera that the Moldovan passport became more attractive with the liberalization of the visa regime with the EU in 2014 and, later, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Even several people from the Transnistrian region who did not have the document have now shown interest in obtaining it, according to the expert.
“For Russian citizens who feel the danger of being mobilized and going to war, this is a form of protection. So, these trends have increased because vulnerabilities have increased,” explains Bambuleac.
The law provides that Moldovan citizenship is acquired through birth, recognition, adoption, recovery, or naturalization. Most Russian citizens who have applied for Moldovan citizenship in the last two years have based their request on recognition. The fewest have applied for citizenship through naturalization, which is the most challenging path.