Jogorku Kenesh (Kyrgyz parliament) deputy Janarbek Akayev has strongly criticised a Justice Ministry draft law aimed at abolishing dual citizenship. Akayev’s criticisms were published in a press release on the Kyrgyz parliament’s website on 29 January (in Russian).
According to the draft law, Kyrgyz citizens who acquire citizenship in another country will forego their Kyrgyz citizenship. Akayev stated: “The adoption of this law will have serious consequences for Kyrgyz labour migrants. They will lose their Kyrgyz citizenship, and it could lead to a demographic and economic collapse in the country.” He added: “It seems that not only is the government unable to create jobs, it is also trying to chase labour migrants out of their homeland.”
The MP pointed out that, as of 2017, 553,198 Kyrgyz citizens had acquired Russian citizenship, and another 18,164 did so between 2018 and 2019. “The vast majority of them kept their Kyrgyz citizenship. This is entirely legal and gives them the right to acquire property back home,” Akayev said.
It should be noted that in the Justice Ministry’s draft law, aired for public discussion on 23 January, the situation is depicted in rather more complex terms. It is stated that Kyrgyz legislation commits the country to dealing with Kyrgyz citizens’ attainment of nationality in other states in accordance with international treaties. To date, however, no such treaties have been concluded. Currently, when states such as Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan confer citizenship, they demand documentation confirming renunciation of Kyrgyz citizenship. Normally migrants produce a notarised copy of the declaration of renunciation of citizenship that they handed in to the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry. For the organs of foreign governments, this is seen as sufficient. But inside the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry itself there are no established routines for the further processing of these cases, and so migrants generally remain citizens of Kyrgyzstan.
In order to deal with such issues, the Justice Ministry has proposed simply abolishing dual citizenship. Kyrgyz nationals who possess dual citizenship will then have three months to inform the State Registration Service (if they are in Kyrgyzstan) or a Kyrgyz consulate (if they live abroad) of their status. All individuals with dual citizenship will then be entered into a single register. There are no plans to deprive them of citizenship retrospectively; only those who take up foreign citizenship after the law’s enactment will have their Kyrgyz citizenship withdrawn. Moreover, the draft law states that this will apply only to those who acquire citizenship in neighbouring countries or countries which apply the above-mentioned system requiring the renunciation of Kyrgyz citizenship.
The draft law contains a number of other proposals to regulate the attainment of citizenship. For instance, there are plans to improve the procedure for granting citizenship to minors, alter the present system of criminal record checks for prospective citizens, and reduce the required period of residence in Kyrgyzstan for professional sportspeople (such a regulation already exists for prominent actors in other spheres).