Anger over SBU questioning of Hungarian Ukrainians



The Hungarian community in the Transcarpathian region assert that the local department of the Security Service [SBU] is questioning people who have been to the Hungarian embassy trying to receive Hungarian citizenship.

Milos Kovacz has addressed a letter to President Yanukovych accusing the Security Service of using pressure and threats. The leader of the Hungarian community says that the people questioned have not been accused of anything, however they were also not permitted to call in a lawyer.

“Such actions by an SBU officer are reminiscent of the practice of the former NKVD during Stalin’s times aimed at intimidating Ukrainians of Hungarian origin and at denigrating the whole Hungarian community of the Transcarpathian region. Such actions also destroy Ukraine’s international image as a law-based country”, he writes in his letter.  He calls on the President to take measures to stop what he calls “criminal actions”.

Since the new law in Hungary came into force on 1 January 2011, Hungarians living in the Transcarpathian region have been actively applying to the Hungarian consulate for passports of Hungarian nationals. They can now receive these according to a simplified procedure. Hungary diplomatic institutions say that there have been thousands of such applications.

Dual citizenship is not permitted in Ukraine, however this is not stopping the ethnic Hungarians or their relatives from trying to receive a second passport.

On the other hand, many politicians and analysts have expressed concern that the process for receiving second citizenship not only among ethnic Hungarians, but others, is not receiving adequate response from the State bodies.

The former head of the SBU Department in the Transcarpathian region, Volodymyr Rokytsky says that liability should be imposed for dual nationality, while Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Mykola Tomenko, has called on the President to consider the issue of Ukrainians also receiving citizenship of Romania, Hungary and other countries at a session of the National Security and Defence Council.

There have been calls for criminal or administrative liability to be imposed, yet analysts suggest that it would be difficult to punish for dual citizenship since depriving a person of Ukrainian citizenship would entail a long court procedure.  Many people simply do not disclose that they have received another country’s citizenship. 

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