Staunton, May 5 – Despite a constitutional provision specifying that all citizens of the Russian Federation are equal before the law, the Putin regime is now treating those who are naturalized very differently than those who are native born citizens, a difference that could disappear and harm the latter as well, Azamat Ismailov says.
The pseudonymous Russian journalist says that in its rush to naturalize immigrants so as to draft them into the military as cannon fodder, Moscow has put in place a set of rules for such people so that if they do not do what the regime wants, they can be stripped of their citizenship and presumably expelled (russian.eurasianet.org/россия-от-гражданства-–-к-кастам).
That possibility leaves them in the position of second-class citizens because the naturalized can never be sure that their citizenship is permanent. They are now always at risk of losing it if they do anything the authorities don’t like, thus creating two castes of people, naturalized citizens with fewer rights and native born with more.
But as Ismailov points out, the real danger is that the Putin regime will use this approach to naturalized citizens as a model for what it might like to do with native-born citizens, thus weakening or even destroying the constitutional requirement that all citizens be treated equally before the law.
For the moment, that seems a distant prospect. But Moscow political analyst Ilya Budraitskis says it is a real danger. That is because Moscow’s approach to naturalized citizens carries with it “an understanding of citizenship” not as a natural right but rather “as ‘a gift’” from the state, an idea with far-reaching and negative consequences.
Ismailov points out that already “according to some analysts, Russia is on the verge of a large-scale transformation of its legislation in the spirit of the Chinese social rating system where the social position of a citizen is strictly determined by his loyalty to the state, and any violation entails a tangible reduction in the scope of his or her rights.”
Russia’s moves in that direction, he says, has been “signaled by the law on electronic subpoenas, which makes it possible to automatically deprive ‘evaders’ of the right to travel abroad, drive a car, purchase or sell real estate, get loans and so on.” The “logical conclusion” of this is the division of Russian citizens into castes, on the basis of their loyalty to the regime.”