Policy Memos

Citizens and Compatriots: The Politics of Citizenship Policy in Russia

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When Russian forces went into South Ossetia last year, Russia cited the protection of its citizens as one justification for its actions. That more than half of South Ossetia's 70,000 residents have taken Russian citizenship is often mentioned. Less well known is the fact that South Ossetians (as well as residents of other breakaway regions who have obtained Russian citizenship) have usually been granted passports only for foreign travel, not internal passports that would allow them to settle in Russia. Citizenship policy is a cornerstone of state- and nation-building everywhere, but it can also be an instrument of foreign policy, including military action abroad, and it has the potential to affect domestic economies and societies. [...]

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About the author

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
Tufts University