Friday, August 25, 2023

Non-Russians who have Fled Authoritarianism at Home May Soon Get Jaakson-Style Passports from Exile Governments

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Aug. 20 – Between 1940 when the Soviet occupation of Estonia began and 1991 when that Baltic nation’s de facto independence was recovered, Ernst Jaakson, the Estonian consul in New York issued to Estonians living abroad documents which became known as Jaakson passports that were recognized by many countries as travel documents.

            Mr. Jaakson who became Estonia’s first ambassador to the United States after 1991 used a supply of passports left over from the pre-1940 Estonian government. And many Estonians proudly retained those documents both then and even after 1991. Neighboring Latvia had a similar but less widely used system.

            Now, officials in the Belarusian government abroad consisting of those loyal to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who won the last presidential election in her homeland but was prevented from taking office by authoritarian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka are considering issuing analogous passports to Belarusians who have moved abroad and whose “Minsk” passports are expiring.

            Other non-Russian movements are considering doing the same thing, believing that the possession of such documents will help mobilize their co-nationals living abroad to oppose the dictators and occupiers at home (

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