The International Observatory on Statelessness

Russian Federation

Several groups in the Russian Federation face statelessness, including Roma and Meskhetian Turks. Russia is home to some 220,000 to 400,000 Roma, an unknown number of whom are stateless. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, former President Yeltsin promised that all holders of Soviet passports in Russia could exchange them for Russian passports. However, Roma have been denied Russian passports by authorities who tell them that they are foreigners. With no legal record or registration as a resident, a person cannot obtain employment or educate their children in public schools.

Between 50,000-70,000 Meshketians live in the Russian Federation, and those in the Krasnodar Territory are denied citizenship rights and have suffered violence from the Cossack community there. Meskhetian Turks were forcibly relocated from southwest Georgia in 1944 by the former Soviet regime. As citizens of the former Soviet Union who were permanently residing in the Russian Federation when the country’s citizenship law came into force (February 6, 1992), those who had not declined Russian citizenship were considered by law to be Russian citizens. Some Meshketian Turks who had been residing in the Krasnodar area of Russia have been resettled to the U.S.