May 24, 2023

FSB To Seize Passports


FSB To Seize Passports

The State Duma is going to give the FSB the right to take away passports at the border, reported VotTak.

On May 20, the State Duma adopted in its second reading amendments to the law “On the Procedure for Departure from the Russian Federation and Entry into the Russian Federation.” Several articles appear in the document that will allow the FSB, which staffs border checkpoints, to check the passports of Russians at border points, invalidate them and confiscate them.

The law has been in the works since 2021, and includes passports of citizens of the Russian Federation, as well as foreign, service, and diplomatic passports. Here are some of the grounds under which passports may be invalidated.

  • loss of a passport
  • change of personal data (last name, first name, patronymic), as well as gender change;
  • expiration of the passport;
  • death of the holder;
  • termination of citizenship of the Russian Federation;
  • cancellation of the decision to acquire a passport;
  • establishing that the holder of the passport does not have citizenship of the Russian Federation based on the results of an audit conducted as part of verifying one's citizenship of the Russian Federation in the manner established by the President of the Russian Federation;
  • establishing the fact of issuing a passport using forged documents or false information;
  • establishing inaccurate information in the passport;
  • establishing that a passport is unsuitable;
  • non-receipt of a passport by its owner after three years from the date of issue of the passport.

Points that stand out include “verifying one's citizenship of the Russian Federation” (the procedure for which will be determined by Vladimir Putin) and “inaccurate information” on which a passport was issued. If border guards establish the invalidity of the passport, then they will seize it, send it to the authority that issued the document, and force it to be checked. At the same time, not only the FSB officers at the border control, but also the authority that issued the document can seize the passport.

In addition, the government wants to allow the seizure of passports of those who, under an employment contract, may have access to state secrets. According to the law, they can be banned from leaving the Russian Federation for five years after the moment of their last interaction with the state secret. However, a special Interdepartmental Commission for the Protection of State Secrets may extend this period.

In fact, the new version of the law gives authorities the right to confiscate passports if they have doubts about the document's authenticity.

Lawyer Ivan Pavlov said he does not see anything “revolutionary or new” in the new version of the law and calls the nature of the document “technical.”

“[The law] prescribes certain actions for the [FSB] department if there are grounds for restricting a citizen’s right to leave,” Pavlov explained. “Here they [the border guards] encounter this citizen when crossing the state border and see that he is admitted to state secrets, and <…> his right to leave is limited. [Border guards] should simply confiscate this document and send it for storage to the appropriate department - the Ministry of Internal Affairs. <...> When a citizen runs out of grounds for a travel ban, then he [a passport] will be issued.”

In March, it became known that certain judges and security officials had their passports seized, as employees of state-owned organizations. Officials were directly asked to deposit their documents with the FSB or with a special department at their place of work.

Translation based on publication in TakVot.

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