Russia’s Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov says that the government has approved a proposal by his ministry to amend the Law on the Status of Citizens. The amendment would allow Russian citizens to include retroactively their nationality (that is, their ethnic identity) in their birth certificates. The decision whether to make the insertion would be entirely voluntary, Krasheninnikov said, but those who so wished could make the addition after reaching the age of majority (eighteen). There are no plans to reinstate the entry for nationality in Russian internal passports (identity documents). The government clearly hopes, however, that allowing ethnic origin to be inserted in birth certificates will calm the continuing uproar over Russia’s new passports, which were introduced last year. In a departure from Soviet practice, the new passports provide no space for nationality. This has provoked enormous resentment in ethnic republics such as Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, where the authorities have refused to issue the new documents. Whether Krasheninnikov’s proposal will soothe ruffled feathers in Tatarstan is not clear: the authorities in the republic have also called for Russia’s new passports to be printed in Tatar as well as Russian. (Novye izvestia, July 4)
LUKASHENKA WANTS STRONG RUSSIAN ARMED FORCES.