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This article describes modern efforts by one country, generally Russia, to induce residents of another, voluntarily or involuntarily, to take up its citizenship. For the Soviet practice of mandating citizens identity papers (internal passports), see Propiska in the Soviet Union.

Passportization is a process by which Russian authorities have induced persons, usually holders of former Soviet passports, to apply for Russian passports. As the number of Russian passport holders in regions of adjoining nations grows, Russia then invokes its national interest in defending its citizens by promoting the independence or annexation of these regions.[citation needed]


In Georgia this occurred in South Ossetia and Abkhazia,[1] where residents continued to be the citizens of Soviet Union and kept Soviet passports even a decade after the break-up of the Soviet Union.[2] In 2002, a new Citizenship Law of Russia simplified acquisition of citizenship for any citizen of the Soviet Union, regardless current place of residence. In Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russian nationalist non-governmental organizations such as the Congress of Russian Communities of Abkhazia carried papers to a nearby Russian city for processing so that residents did not need to travel to obtain Russian citizenship.[3] By June 25, 2002, approximately 150,000 Abkhazians had gained Russian citizenship in addition to the 50,000 who already possessed it, with the blessing of authorities in Sukhum.[2] The Georgian Foreign Ministry denounced the passport allocation as an “unprecedented illegal campaign”. On February 1, 2011, Soviet passports were no longer considered valid for crossing the Russian-Abkhaz border.[4]

In April 2009, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities stated there was "pressure being exercised on the Georgian population in the Gali District through the limitation of their education rights, compulsory "passportization", forced conscription into the Abkhaz military forces and restrictions on their freedom of movement."[5] An effort to force ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia to take on Abkhaz citizenship was rebuffed in 2009.[6]


  1. ^ "Human Rights in the Occupied Territories of Georgia". Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Inal Khashig (2002-06-27). "Abkhaz Rush For Russian Passports". Institute for War & Peace Reporting.
  3. ^ "Russian Federation: Legal Aspects of War in Georgia". Library of Congress.
  4. ^ Anton Krivenuk (2011-02-01). "Abkhaz Rush For Russian Passports". GeorgiaTimes. Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
  5. ^ OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities deeply concerned by recent developments in Abkhazia. OSCE Press Release. 14 April 2009 Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Head of Abkhaz NSC Resigns. Civil Georgia. 18 August 2009