One Bill passed the first reading and one Bill was rejected in the Riigikogu:
The Bill on Amendments to § 29 of the Citizenship Act (588 SE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction, would extend the possibilities of having the citizenship of another state, besides the citizenship of Estonia, if a person proves that the renunciation of the citizenship of the other state is impossible, dangerous or unreasonably complicated. According to the current Citizenship Act, an Estonian citizen may not simultaneously hold the citizenship of another state and if he or she does, the Police and Border Guard Board starts the proceedings for loss of Estonian citizenship. Children who have acquired the citizenship of two states by birth are an exception. They must renounce either their Estonian citizenship or their citizenship of the other state within three years after attaining the age of 18 years.
“The submission of the Bill was motivated by the specific case with 13-year old girl Kristina Bruyeva who lives in Kohtla-Järve. She had acquired Estonian citizenship by naturalisation and she was going to be deprived of it against her will because in the meantime her father had acquired the citizenship of the Russian Federation and had taken the citizenship of the Russian Federation also for his child,” Jaak Allik said when presenting the Bill in the name of the Social Democratic Party. “The girl wished to renounce Russian citizenship but the fact appeared that, in the case of a minor, the Act of the Russian Federation allows that only in the case when one of the parents is a citizen of another state.” Allik said that, for the girl in Kohtla-Järve and others like her, the passing of the Bill would mean extending the existing situation by law until the minors attain 18 years of age when renunciation of the citizenship of the Russian Federation would become possible for them and the basis for the exception provided for by law would be eliminated.
Allik was asked several dozens of questions and, among other things, the Bill was criticised for over-simplifying the acquisition of dual citizenship and changing the principles of Estonian citizenship policy. In Allik’s estimation, the amendment will not bring about a massive extension of dual citizenship because the Bill does not provide for the retention of dual citizenship automatically but gives the Police and Border Guard Board the right to decide whether to allow it for a person or not.
Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Rait Maruste said that, when discussing the proposal of the Social Democratic Party on 15 April and 22 April, the Committee had understood the problem that was intended to be solved by the Bill, but he added that a whole range of questions had been found. “The text of the Bill and its explanatory memorandum do not agree,” Maruste said. “Second, we found that it contains several categories of assessment, which allows for an extensive discretion for officials in the assessment of such categories as what state is impossible, what situation is dangerous, or what is unreasonably complicated. A Citizenship Act should generally avoid such definitions. Third, what we observed was that the text covers not only minors.” He added that the Ministry of Internal Affairs is preparing a new Bill which also includes a prohibition on the deprivation of a person of 18 years of age of Estonian citizenship which has been acquired by naturalisation. “This Bill is being coordinated at present and should reach us soon,” Maruste said.
Yana Toom, Ken-Marti Vaher, Andrus Ansip and Karel Rüütli took the floor during the debate.
The Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction moved to reject the Bill at the first reading but, with 17 votes in favour and 47 against, this was not supported. Motions to amend the Bill which passed the first reading can be submitted until 20 May. At the sitting of the Constitutional Committee on 22 April, the representative of the Social Democratic Party had noted that the text of the Bill needed specification, and it would be reasonable to do that between the first and the second reading, after the proposals of the Ministry of Internal Affairs would have arrived.
The Riigikogu rejected the Bill on Amendments to the Local Government Council Election Act and the Riigikogu Election Act (607 SE), which would have allowed for the formation of election coalitions of political parties both at local government council elections and the Riigikogu elections.
The member of the Riigikogu Andres Herkel who had submitted the Bill noted that the current regulation is too restrictive and, as a result of that, a number of opportunities for political cooperation go unused. The Constitutional Committee had decided to move to reject the Bill at the sitting on 22 April where it had been found that the allowing of election coalitions of political parties would bring about not flexibility but confusion and diffusion of responsibility.
Mihhail Stalnuhhin took the floor during the debate.
48 members of the Riigikogu supported the rejection of the Bill and 1 was against.
The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian): http://www.riigikogu.ee/?op=steno&stcommand=stenogramm
The Riigikogu Press Service
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