YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Citizens with Soviet passports pose a problem for law-enforcement agencies of former Soviet republics. The issue of the status of Armenia’s citizens was raised before the Armenian delegation by representatives of the ministries of the interior and foreign affairs of the CIS and Baltic countries at a conference held in Kiev last December on the problem of stateless persons. The conference was organized by the OSCE and UNHCR.
Levon Nersessian–director of the Armenian Sakharov Fund for Human Rights–said law-enforcement agencies in these countries are concerned because Armenia’s official structures do not confirm the citizenship of Armenian citizens temporarily living abroad. At one time–a great number of citizens with Soviet passports left Armenia for the other former Soviet countries. Their passports were considered valid until the issuing of new passports by the each newly-independent country. Law-enforcement agencies began demanding confirming the citizenship inhabitants–and disregarded the outdated Soviet passports. Many Armenian citizens find it difficult to obtain new Armenian passports since there aren’t too many Armenian embassies and consulates throughout the CIS and Baltic states. Financial hardships prevent these people from going to where the Armenian consulates are located. In addition–written inquiries by law-enforcement agencies on the citizenship of one person or another go unanswered by the Armenian consulates and the Armenian ministry of the interior. This was pointed out by the ministry of the interior of Ukraine.
Another serious problem is the status of refugees and natives of Karabakh since no one is dealing with the confirmation of their citizenship.
The Sakharov human Rights Fund addressed a letter to President Robert Kocharian–describing the situation and requesting him to render assistance in solving the problem.