Russia Seeks to Strip Citizenship From Foreign-Born Terrorists

  • Draft bill backed by all parties submitted to parliament
  • Suspects in St. Petersburg subway blast held Russian passports

Russia will be able to remove citizenship from naturalized foreigners who get involved in terrorism, under legislation submitted by lawmakers after a suicide bomber killed 14 people in the St. Petersburg subway.

The draft bill put forward by leaders of all four parties in Russia’s lower house of parliament would strip naturalized citizens of their status if they’re convicted of terrorism and other crimes including hostage-taking, killing a government official, and financing extremism. It follows President Vladimir Putin’s call for tighter regulation after the April 3 attack in St. Petersburg while he was visiting his native city.

“Under the Russian Constitution, we cannot revoke anyone’s citizenship, but we can overturn the decisions that served as the basis for granting someone Russian citizenship,” Putin said in an April 11 interview to Mir TV. “We are in consultation with our legal experts and I think that this decision will be taken very soon.”

Investigators have blamed Russia’s worst terrorist attack in a major city in years on a group of migrant workers from central Asia with suspected ties to radical Islamist groups. They identified the bomber as a Russian citizen born in Kyrgyzstan, and said a suspected organizer of the attack who was detained by Federal Security Service agents on Monday also held a Russian passport. The Islamic State group has threatened to strike at Russia since Putin sent forces to Syria in 2015 in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s fight against rebels.

The bill, published on the parliamentary website, states that the new power wouldn’t apply if it rendered someone stateless because he or she has no other citizenship or lacks a right to foreign nationality.

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