Staunton, Mar. 14 – Calls by United Russia Duma deputy Sultan Khamzayev not to allow any Russian who fled the country because of opposition to Putin’s war in Ukraine back into Russia are bad enough, but now a more senior deputy has proposed that a new law be adopted that would allow Moscow to expel from the country any Russian citizen who opposes the war.
Oleg Morozov, who chairs the head of the Duma committee on control and who used to be in charge of the domestic politics administration of the Presidential Administration, says the Duma should consider passing a law that would allow Moscow to declare persona non grata any Russian citizen who speaks out against the war.
According to the senior United Russia deputy, this would affect their citizenship but only their right to live in Russia; but as the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta point out, Article 27 of the Russian constitution specifies that “a citizen of the Russian Federation has the right to return to the Russian Federation without restriction” (ng.ru/editorial/2022-03-13/2_8389_editorial.html).
Technically, the paper notes, blocking Russians from coming back is even easier than preventing them from leaving; and the Kremlin has already taken steps in this direction by giving itself the power to strip those who have received Russian citizenship from retaining that status if they violate the law or as a practical matter offend the regime.
The only real questions are “how great is the desire of the authorities to punish those disloyal citizens who leave” and what will happen to those who go abroad but aren’t allowed to remain in some countries or even enter others. Such “radical actions could create a new class of homeless, ‘the politically homeless.’”