Refugees in Crimea to Exchange Ukrainian Passports for Migration Cards

SIMFEROPOL, June 11 (RIA Novosti) – Refugees from southeastern Ukraine in Crimea are to hand in their Ukrainian passports and receive migration cards to enjoy the same rights as local citizens, head of the Crimean State Council permanent committee for refugees Irina Klyuyeva told reporters Wednesday.

Every day some 100 refugees arrive from Ukraine to Crimea, which rejoined Russia following a referendum in mid-March. The number of refugees who left the crisis-hit country as part of organized groups has reached 1,300. “Unorganized refugees” account for another 5,000 to 7,000, the official said.

Migration card holders are to be able to get officially employment and receive medical assistance, as well as other social benefits. The refugees will be able to live in Russia for the year and apply for Russian citizenship through a simplified procedure. Those interested in returning to Ukraine have to hand in their migration cards and get their Ukrainian passports back.

Some refugees have shown interest in staying in Russia as part of a settlement program in the least populated Russian territories, including Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East. “They contact these territories and say they do not want to live in Ukraine and are tired of endless shocks in the country in the past ten years,” Klyuyeva said.

Crimea’s Finance Minister Vladimir Levandovsky said Tuesday some 30 million rubles ($872,670) has been allocated from the budget in compensation expenses related to the placement of refugees from southeastern Ukraine.

Violence in southeastern Ukraine has been on the rise since the beginning of a punitive operation launched by Kiev authorities in mid-April and has claimed dozens of civilian lives. Moscow has repeatedly stated that Kiev must stop its military operation and start a direct dialogue with independence supporters.

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