Espreso. Global
OPINION

"Good Russians" seek to renounce citizenship

28 August, 2023 Monday
15:15

The "good Russians" have come up with a new idea - to live without citizenship. They refuse to take any responsibility and are demanding a status that exempts them from all forms of accountability

They are requesting "Nansen passports," similar to the documents issued for stateless individuals by the League of Nations between 1922 and 1938 in the aftermath of World War I. During that period, around 450,000 passports were issued, including to notable figures such as Ivan Bunin, Vladimir Nabokov, Anna Pavlova, Sergey Rachmaninov, Ilya Repin, Igor Stravinsky, George Gurdjieff, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and surviving members of the imperial family.

However, those seeking Nansen passports seem to overlook the historical context in which this decision was made. After World War I, some countries ceased to exist while others were engulfed in prolonged internal conflicts. Furthermore, the USSR stripped 800,000 refugees from the civil war of their citizenship, leading to an international conference convened under the League of Nations' auspices. It's worth noting that the majority of Nansen passports, over 70%, were issued to Armenians escaping the first genocide of the 20th century, along with Assyrians and other post-genocide communities.

In essence, Nansen passports were issued not for those who wished to live without citizenship, but for those who had their citizenship revoked during the war. Presently, Russia isn't in a state of war; rather, it's actively involved in invading a foreign country.

If Nansen passports were to be granted, they should go to representatives of national liberation movements from oppressed nations who have managed to escape persecution. This would allow them to travel freely worldwide and advocate for their peoples' fates and aspirations. The Nansen passport shouldn't be seen as an escape from citizenship and the accompanying responsibilities, but rather as a lifeline for those denied a rightful place in a country, perhaps even life itself.

This situation aligns with a broader trend of rejecting "Russian" identity, as I've previously discussed, along with more recent observations by Olha Dukhnich. This trend includes stories of "Kazakh-born entrepreneurs from Israel" and similar narratives.

When remorse is out of reach and accountability is evaded, the only options left are to alter one's identity or to obtain a Nansen passport, becoming a person without a homeland, a person from nowhere. After all, not everyone can claim a Jewish grandmother or the circumstance of being born in Kazakhstan.

Interestingly, Fridtjof Nansen himself was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922, along with his International Refugee Office in 1938. This underscores the emphasis on care and rescue rather than using these mechanisms as a means to change one's identity.

Source

About the author. Valeriy Pekar, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy professor 

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.

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