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Russian Protester, Family Stripped of Citizenship

    Russian Protester, Family Stripped of Citizenship
    Updated Nov 03, 2022
    Image credit: Reuters [via Al Jazeera]

    Facts

    • After five months of legal proceedings, a Russian judge in a Moscow region court ruled on Monday that prominent anti-war and climate activist Arshak Makichyan's citizenship is invalid, along with that of his father and two brothers.[1]
    • The decision to strip the Armenian-born Makichyan and his relatives of their Russian nationality and render them stateless comes after a court ruled last week that they gave false information when applying for citizenship. Makichyan's application was made as a 10-year-old in 2004.[2]
    • Makichyan, dubbed Russia's "lone climate activist" for his solo protests on Moscow's Pushkin Square and who is currently living in Germany in exile, is a fierce critic of Russia's role in the Ukraine war.[3]
    • According to his lawyer Olga Podoplelova, the judge committed a "very serious violation" of Russian law by not announcing the verdict immediately after the hearing, instead reporting it by phone the next day.[1]
    • Since the ruling doesn't take effect until the conclusion of the appeals process, his family can remain in Russia. While Makichyan's German visa is valid until the end of the year, he doesn't "intend to ask for asylum" but is hopeful that European politicians may help him.[4]
    • Multiple Russian businessmen have also renounced their citizenship in protest of Russia's actions in Ukraine, including tech company Revolut co-founder, Nikolay Storonsky, and billionaire tech investor Yuri Milner.[5]

    Spin

    Anti-Russia narrative

    Though millions of Russians are opposed to the Ukraine war, Makichyan's public protests were a rare sight — especially since Putin decided to invade Ukraine and criminalize dissent. This is another example of Russia's Soviet-style crackdown, aimed at instilling fear in those who oppose the regime.

    Pro-Russia narrative

    The West may claim that Makichyan is a victim of a uniquely Russian form of suppression, but other countries revoke dual citizenship status for taking a pro-Russia stance in the Ukraine war. Moldova, for example, has threatened its Russian dual citizens with prison time or citizenship revocation if they choose to fight for Russia.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 50% chance that at least 21.3K Russian citizens will be arrested for participating in anti-war protests before 2023, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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