Ukraine: Update and correction of UKR22712.E of 2 January 1996 whether ethnicity is indicated on internal passport and other personal documentation
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||17 July 2001|
|Citation / Document Symbol||UKR37492.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ukraine: Update and correction of UKR22712.E of 2 January 1996 whether ethnicity is indicated on internal passport and other personal documentation, 17 July 2001, UKR37492.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4bebd14.html [accessed 9 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
This Response replaces UKR22712.E of 2 January 1996 that incorrectly indicated that old Soviet-style internal passports did not specify the bearer's nationality. Further recent information is also included below.
The following information was provided to the DIRB by an official of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs during an 8 December 1995 meeting at the Ukrainian Embassy in Ottawa.
New Ukrainian internal passports began to be issued to Ukrainians aged 16 in March 1995 in the Kiev region. The colour of the new internal passport is dark blue and is valid for an indeterminate period of time. The old Soviet-style internal passports can be changed at the request of the bearer and will remain valid until the passport bearer requests a new internal passport. The new internal passport does not show the nationality of the bearer.
The following information is excerpted from the February 2000 report of the Danish Immigration Service fact-finding mission to Ukraine.
According to the State Committee of Ukraine for Nationalities and Migration, ethnic origin is no longer indicated on passports or other documents issued by the public authorities. Examples of such documents include employment contracts, educational certificates and marriage certificates. This change came into effect in 1992, with the adoption of the Law on passports and the registration of births, and citizens were to have exchanged their old passports and birth certificates after that Law entered into force. The plan was for such exchanges to be carried out before 1 January 2000, after which date all old documents would become invalid. However, the exchange programme proved difficult to implement and hence there are still a few old documents in existence, including internal passports, which have not yet been exchanged and which are therefore still valid. The Committee added that not all ethnic minorities are happy with the current legislation on documents as they would like to see some acknowledgement of their ethnicity and hence their identity.
According to the Jewish Council, Jews and children of mixed marriages used to conceal their identity during the Communist era, but now the situation is reversed. According to the Israeli Embassy, it used to be possible to change one's name or adopt one's spouse's name in the Soviet Union and many Jews changed their names in the 1950s in order to conceal their ethnicity. Today, many Jews wish to rediscover their ethnic identity and reassume their original names. However. it is currently extremely difficult to change one's name in Ukraine.
The State Committee of Ukraine for Nationalities and Migration said that ethnic origin is currently recorded only in the migration statistics, and only in cases where emigrants wish to provide details of their ethnicity.
Several sources, including the Jewish Community of Odessa, the Israeli Embassy and a Western embassy, agreed that there are many false documents in circulation which ostensibly attest to Jewish identity. The Israeli Embassy has inspected a selection of the documents submitted and has established that 40% of the documents in question are false. The reason for the forgeries is that documentation attesting to Jewish ethnicity opens the door to emigration to Israel, Germany, the USA and other countries. According to the Israeli Embassy, it is possible to purchase all kinds of documents and the quality depends on the amount of money that can be paid. However, the Embassy is able to assess the authenticity of any document. It noted that Israel has identified up to 45 people who have emigrated to Israel on the basis of false documents and have turned out to be non-Jewish. A Western embassy commented that it does not recognise any documents issued since 1989, because of the many forgeries in existence.
According to the Danish Embassy, personal data is recorded by the Passport and Visa Registration Office (Otdel viz i Rgistratssi (OVIR)) and registration takes place in the municipalities on a decentralised basis. Registration is compulsory and the internal passport shows the most recent address (9-18 February, 17).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Danish Immigration Service. 9-18 February 2000. Report on the Fact-Finding Mission to Ukraine: Examination of Conditions for the Jewish Minority. Copenhagen: Danish Immigration Service.
Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kiev. 8 December 1995. Interview with official visiting Ottawa.