Regarding the Forced Documenting of the Citizens of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic by Competent Authorities of the Republic of Moldova

Regarding the Forced Documenting of the Citizens of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic  by Competent Authorities of the Republic of Moldova

Under Article 3 of the Constitution of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, citizens of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic may have citizenship of another state, i.e. double citizenship.

Given this provision and objective reasons connected with unsettled relations with the Republic of Moldova, a situation has been established in Pridnestrovie today when a significant number of dual nationals, on a par with the citizenship of the PMR possess citizenship of other post-Soviet states, mainly that of the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.

It should be noted that this state of affairs is a result of traditionally very flexible provisions of the national legislation of the CIS-countries in terms of entry into citizenship of the newly formed states by former Soviet citizens and their descendants.

At the same time, there is a considerable number of citizens in Pridnestrovie today who face various barriers set by the Republic of Moldova which hamper them from free acquisition of the citizenship of other states, in particular that of the Russian Federation and Ukraine. A significant amount of Pridnestrovian people, mainly of young age who identify themselves as Russian compatriots and who are in fact direct descendants of the citizens born in the territory of contemporary Russia are also restricted in their right to enter into stable legal relationship with Russia.

One of the most explicit restrictive measures applied in relation to Pridnestrovian citizens is refusal of the competent authorities of Moldova to issue a certificate of a stateless person (apatride) which is very often a basic requirement when applying for citizenship of CIS-countries. The Bureau for Migration and Asylum of Moldova's Ministry of Interior refuses to issue a certificate of an apatride for Pridnestrovian citizens offering them to be documented by means of IDs of Moldova's passport system. Such decision is motivated by the fact that all citizens born and residing in Pridnestrovie are already citizens of the Republic of Moldova.

At the same time, the Moldovan side resorts to various tricks. In particular, applications of the citizens for certificates of stateless persons are used by competent authorities of Moldova for entering them in the common database of citizens of Moldova. Besides, Pridnestrovian people are invited to make the passport of the Republic of Moldova in order to challenge before a court the denial to issue a certificate of stateless persons that, in fact, is a legal trap which dozens of Pridnestrovian people has already fallen into.

The Moldovan side substantiates its position by the need to fulfill international commitments that Moldova adopted by joining to the UN Convention relating to the Status of the Stateless Persons of 1954 and UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness of 1961. Appealing to these documents, Kishinev made a decision to grant citizenship of the Republic of Moldova automatically to all persons who have the right to acquire it under the law “On the Citizenship of the Republic of Moldova”.  

In this regard, attention should be paid to a whole number of violations and deliberate omissions made by the Moldovan side when interpreting international law. In particular, none of the above Conventions obliges actual stateless persons to acquire citizenship of the state in the territory of which they are currently residing de jure: the Conventions merely give them the right to claim citizenship of the host country.

Thus, the automatic procedure of inclusion of all Pridnestrovian citizens in the citizenship of the Republic of Moldova in fact deprives them of the right to enter freely into the citizenship of the state with which they identify themselves, primarily on cultural and linguistic grounds.

The illegality of the actions by the Moldovan side is also confirmed by Moldova's legislation, namely by paragraph “a” of Part 2 of Article 12 of the Law of Moldova Nr. 1024 “On the Citizenship of the Republic of Moldova” of June 2, 2000, which states that recognized citizens of the Republic of Moldova shall be individuals who were born in the territory of the Republic of Moldova, or at least those one of whose parents or grandparents were born in the above mentioned territory, and who wish to become citizens of the Republic of Moldova. Consequently, existing grounds for the acquisition of citizenship are not a fact of a person's automatic entry into citizenship of the given state, but merely assume the ability or right to become its citizen.

The given provision is also compatible with the Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 which establishes a principle that everyone has the right to a nationality, no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his/her nationality nor denied the right to change the nationality. Therefore, a person is not obliged to obtain citizenship, but only has the right to do it; in this case, it is the country that has an obligation which is a guarantee of human rights.

Thus, a paradoxical situation emerges when the Republic of Moldova impedes the free choice of citizenship of other countries and imposes absolutely non-alternative forms on Pridnestrovian citizens which deprive them of their legal right to free choice of citizenship under conditions of unresolved conflict between Pridnestrovie and the Republic of Moldova, as well as existing consequences connected with the collapse of the USSR.

Moreover, such approach on the part of the Republic of Moldova absolutely puts Pridnestrovian citizens in a deadlock when they cannot freely obtain citizenship of other countries and do not wish to acquire RM's nationality. It is important to stress that applying for a certificate of a stateless person is not an end in itself, but is just connected with the need to process relevant documentation which will end with unconditional entry into citizenship of one or another country and consequently – with the fulfillment of provisions of the above-mentioned Conventions aimed at the reduction of statelessness.

The Pridnestrovian side more than once addressed representatives of the Republic of Moldova with proposals to resolve the current situation violating rights of the population of Pridnestrovie to free choice of citizenship. Thus, on March 21, 2014 the issue of forced documentation of Pridnestrovian people by Moldova's competent authorities was discussed during the meeting of Expert (Working) Groups on Issues of Regulatory and Document Support of Citizens. The head of expert group of Pridnestrovie, Prosecutor of the PMR A.F. Deli pointed out to the Moldovan colleagues that the decision to acquire citizenship of one country or another is the right of each individual, not an obligation. 

The discussion on that issue was continued on April 19, 2014 at the meeting of political representatives in the OSCE Office in Tiraspol. At that time the Pridnestrovian side proposed to organize international assessment of the issue on the forced documentation of the Pridnestrovie's citizens, inter alia through the European Union and the OSCE.

The PMR's MFA officially addressed representatives of the Permanent Conference in the 5+2 format with the initiative to make such assessment, as well as to implement legal interpretation of international commitments of the Republic of Moldova in terms of their contradiction or non-contradiction with the fulfillment of the right of Pridnestrovian people to a free choice of citizenship. Moreover, the Pridnestrovian side officially informed the OSCE Chairman-in-Office about its intention to discuss the issue on the forced documentation of the people of Pridnestrovie by the Moldovan competent authorities during the next 5+2 meeting.