The Commissioner addressed the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation in connection with the imposition of consular fees.
19 March 2021
The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Republic of Abkhazia, Asida Shakryl, addressed the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation, Alexey Dvinyanin, with a request to review the charging of consular fees in the amount of five thousand rubles for determining the citizenship status of persons residing in RA, if the authority that issued a foreign passport of the Russian citizen is the Consular Department of the Embassy of the Russian Federation.
The Ombudsman’s office of the Republic of Abkhazia received a number of complaints from citizens and residents of Abkhazia, stating that the Consular Section of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the RA does not accept applications for renewal of foreign passports of Russian citizens without charging additional consular fees.
By Order of the Government of the Russian Federation dated 05.10.2020. No.1601, the fees charged for consular services were amended. This Act entered into force on January 1, 2021.
From the date the law was enacted, citizens of the Russian Federation who reside in the Republic of Abkhazia were requested to pay a consular fee of US$ 65 for determining the possession of RF citizenship. (Amend.3, para.2 of the Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation of 05.10.2020g. No.1601 “On the amendment of the consular fees charged by officials for consular services”). The grounds for administering the citizenship verification process is the expiration of the foreign passport of a citizen prior to submitting an application for its replacement.
The mass acquisition of Russian citizenship by citizens of the Republic of Abkhazia under the simplified procedure was being carried out in accordance with Federal Law No. 62 of 31.05.2002 “On Citizenship of the Russian Federation”. The Act allowed the passport of a Soviet citizen to be replaced by that of a Russian citizen within a shorter period (Act, art.14). Following the above-mentioned law, from 2002 onwards Abkhazian citizens were issued with RF passports by the representative office of the Russian Federation on the territory of the RA. The acquisition of Russian citizenship under the simplified procedure was terminated in 2008, after the recognition of the Republic as a sovereign independent state by the Russian Federation.
The period of validity of the RF foreign travel passport, issued in Abkhazia is limited(five years). Renewal of an expired document takes place at the Consular Section of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Abkhazia.
In accordance with Presidential Decree Of The Russian Federation of November 14, 2002 No. 1325 "About approval of the Regulations on procedure for consideration of questions of citizenship of the Russian Federation" (as amended on 16-08-2021), verification of a person's Russian citizenship is carried out by sending requests to the relevant authorities at the place of issue, at the place of residence, as well as to the executive authorities and the court.
Since the place of residence for the applicants is Abkhazia, and the place of issue of the document is the consular department of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Abkhazia, the procedure for verification is significantly simplified.
Due to the Covid-19 crisis, 2020 was a challenging year. As a result of the pandemic and quarantine measures, many were unable to submit the documents for the passport renewal on time. The impact of the pandemic has been particularly severe on the well-being of the socially vulnerable groups of the population. In this regard, the collection of consular fees in the amount of five thousand rubles became an unbearable burden for many citizens.
The opportunity to hold Russian citizenship is a privilege that enables citizens of Abkhazia to overcome political obstacles and to fully realize rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Commissioner hopes that the representatives of the Russian Federation will be able to find a fair solution to the issue of extending the validity of Russian passports. She also expressed hope for cooperation in the protection of human rights and freedoms in the Republic of Abkhazia.