Vladimir Putin signed a law approving a list of reasons why Russians' foreign passports can be invalidated. According to the new rules, the document becomes invalid in the following cases:
- loss of passport
- change of citizenship, gender or surname, date or place of birth,
- expiration date,
- owner's death
- termination of citizenship
- issuance of a passport on a stolen form,
- false information in the passport,
- non-receipt of a passport by the owner within three years after registration,
- refusal to transfer a passport for storage without a good reason by a citizen who is restricted from leaving the country.
The last point concerns people admitted to state secrets or who have entered into an employment contract that implies a temporary restriction of the right to leave Russia. They will have to hand over their passports for safekeeping to the agency that issued them this document within five days.
In addition, Russians called up for military or alternative service will have to hand over their passports. According to the new law, a citizen will have to do this within five days "from the date of bringing the decision to restrict the right to leave to the passport holder." At the same time, according to the law on electronic subpoenas that came into force in April, a citizen is prohibited from leaving the country from the moment the subpoena is served. The summons is considered delivered seven days after it is placed in the unified register.
The head of the Lithuanian branch of the non-governmental organization Freedom House, Vytis Yurkonis, told The Insider that the Russian authorities are unlikely to massively cancel the passports of Russians who have already left the country. According to the human rights activist, it is more likely that Moscow "initiates several high-profile demonstrative stories to intimidate those who have gone abroad."
“Cancellation of a passport cannot prevent EU countries from putting a visa in the document or prevent the holder of such a passport from starting the procedure for obtaining documents of a foreigner for stay in the EU. If he is in the country legally, it is possible to apply for a so-called alien's passport.
The situation may be somewhat different in countries whose authorities are close to Russia. The border guards make the decision on permission to leave with a canceled passport individually, but even in the event of a ban, there is a way out: obtaining documents from one of the countries that provide asylum, or a foreigner's passport, or other travel documents.”
According to Yurkonis, Russians hiding from mobilization in the countries of Central Asia are more at risk than others.
“One of the consequences of [the adoption of the new] law is a possible panic, for which there are no grounds, but which should overload the competent authorities of the European Union. The goal [of the Russian authorities] is to create a wave of panic that will cause another outflow of citizens disloyal to the regime [from the country].”
According to the adopted amendments on a unified list of grounds for invalidating international passports, Russia will have a federal database of issued passports, including invalid ones.