Citizenship given up to unite family

  • 2000-11-30
  • Sergei Stepanov
NARVA - Estonian citizenship became an obstacle to 23-year-old Denis, editor of a Narva newspaper, who decided to give up Estonian citizenship and apply for Russian citizenship on Nov. 26 - Citizens Day.

Denis declined to reveal his last name and to be photographed. He said his decision is the only way to be with his wife, a resident of St. Petersburg. Denis spent almost a year trying in vain to get a residence permit for his wife. His wife has to leave Estonia as her annual limit of visiting Estonia - 90 days per year - is over.

"If I married a citizen of the United States or some European country, the officials from the citizenship and migration board would run to my wife to hand her the residence permit," said Denis.

Denis is going to leave for St. Petersburg and is not concerned about his future. "That city is more promising for me regarding jobs," he said.

According to the Law on Aliens there is a certain passage on family re-unification. A family can unite if they have a child under 15 years of age or if the woman has been pregnant for 12 weeks. Aliens have no right to family reunification. Denis thinks those provisions are discriminatory.

Estonian law, which is benevolent to citizens of NATO and European Union countries, is opening the gate to Estonia for about 8,000 foreigners from the West and closing it for about 3,000 families of aliens that need family reunification.

Mihail Stalnuhin and Vladimir Velman, MPs from the Estonian Center Party, proposed legislation to change the law on citizenship, which would make easier the process of family reunification. Estonian Minister of Population Katrin Saks along with the Ministry of Interior Affairs said the bill might cause quite a number of fictitious weddings.

Nevertheless the bill passed the first reading on Nov. 21, and Stalnuhin and Velman said they think the law will be changed next spring.