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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Citizenship at Issue in Duma Bill

Russians who are also citizens of another country will be banned from running for legislative seats if a bill recently introduced in the State Duma is passed.

The bill's chief author, Deputy Boris Vinogradov, said the measure would buttress national security.

Eight deputies from all four of the Duma's factions -- Vinogradov's Rodina party, the pro-Kremlin party United Russia, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Communist Party -- are backing the bill.

"There must be only one motherland," Vinogradov said.

If passed, the bill would prevent people with multiple citizenships from running for the Duma and regional legislatures, and it would bar them from being appointed to the Federation Council.

Should the Duma approve the bill, it would have to decide whether to make it applicable for sitting deputies, Vinogradov said. In general, he said, laws are not retroactive.

Vinogradov said he did not know how many current Duma deputies held foreign passports.

Deputy Alexei Ostrovsky, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party who also supported the bill, indicated that it could backfire against Rodina. Vedomosti reported Monday that Ostrovsky said Rodina's head, Alexander Babakov, held three passports -- from Russia, Israel and either Slovakia or Ukraine.

Viktor Dimitriyev, Babakov's spokesman, said Monday that Babakov held only a Russian passport. Ostrovsky did not return telephone calls.

Mark Urnov, a political scientist at the Higher School of Economics, called the bill an effort to cordon off Russia from the rest of the world.

Urnov was also skeptical that the Central Elections Commission or other government agencies would be able to establish how many passports were held by candidates.

Dmitry Oreshkin, head of the Mercator think tank, shrugged off Vinogradov's national security concerns, saying he knew of no cases in which deputies, who often have access to sensitive materials, had leaked state secrets to foreigners.