TALLINN - An increasing number of Russian citizens have begun to dig up their Estonian roots, acquire an Estonian passport and, along with that, the right to live anywhere in the EU and visa-free travel to the U.S., Estonian Public Broadcasting reports.
In 2011, the Estonian Embassy in Moscow, the consulate general in St. Petersburg, and another consular office in Pskov gave out 2,066 new Estonian passports, about half of which were issued to new citizens.
That is the most significant figure in years, reported Postimees. Some experts say a key factor of growing interest is access to the EU and the U.S. Attesting to this type of attraction are schemers, such as one detained in Russia last year, who offer clients Estonian, Latvian or Lithuanian citizenship in exchange for a 20,000 to 70,000-euro fee. Despite the enormous sum, Russian officials say some clients are willing to pay.
Russia has thousands of people who have a legal claim to Estonian citizenship, and who do not have to take any language test, actually live in Estonia, or even haveto give up their Russian citizenship.
What they do need is a couple of documents showing that a parent of the applicant was an Estonian citizen before June 16, 1940.