MOSCOW, April 30 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to speed up progress on a draft law easing citizenship requirements for Russian-language speaking applicants who are descendants of people born in Russia and the Soviet Union, the Kremlin press service said on Tuesday.
Putin has tasked the government with introducing a draft law to the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, by September 15, 2013, the Kremlin said.
Russian citizenship requirements will be relaxed for those applicants who have decided to move to Russia for permanent residence and renounce the citizenship of another country.
During his live question and answer session on TV last week, Putin invited citizens from the CIS countries “of a reproductive age, who are well-educated and can adapt well to our culture” to become Russian citizens. “We are waiting for such people,” he said.
Russia wants to attract such immigrants because of the falling population, which threatens to create a demographic crisis, with a particular shortage of working age people. Many people from the former USSR who have tried to get Russian citizenship hitherto complain about the time the process takes, and the arbitrary nature of the bureaucracy involved.
When asked about legendary French actor Gerard Depardieu, who received fast-tracked Russian citizenship in January, Putin said he was a special case owing to his career as an actor and contribution to Russian culture.
Depardieu collected his Russian passport at a meeting with Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 6. He said he had renounced his French citizenship ahead of the government’s planned implementation of a 75 percent tax rate for annual earnings above $1.3 million. Russia has a single-band income tax of just 13 percent.
Putin said other famous people have also discussed with him the possibility of becoming Russian citizens.
Brazilian goalkeeper Guilherme Marinato of Lokomotiv Moscow told his fans earlier this week he wants to receive Russian citizenship and is collecting the documents required for the procedure, the Sovetsky Sport newspaper said.