Western countries pledged to limit the ‘Golden Passport’ program, which allows Russians to obtain European citizenship by investment.
“We commit to acting against the people and entities who facilitate the war in Ukraine and the harmful activities of the Russian government. Specifically, we commit to taking measures to limit the sale of citizenship – so called golden passports – that let wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government become citizens of our countries and gain access to our financial systems,” the leaders of the EU, UK, US, and Canada said in a joint statement announcing a new round of sanctions on Russia, published on Saturday.
The measure comes amid Russia’s ongoing operation to “demilitarize” Ukraine, condemned by many Western nations as an “unjustified” attack.
The statement also pledged to employ “sanctions and other financial and enforcement measures on additional Russian officials and elites close to the Russian government, as well as their families, and their enablers to identify and freeze the assets they hold in our jurisdictions.”
The ‘Golden Passport’ program differs from country to country; in general, it allows a person to gain citizenship in exchange for investment in the country, be it launching a business project, funding an existing enterprise, purchasing property, or making a donation to the country’s approved investment fund.
According to industry experts, European golden passports have gained in popularity among Russians since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The previous boom was recorded in 2014, after Crimea cut ties with Kiev following a referendum, and joined Russia. Portugal and Montenegro were among the most popular destinations for obtaining golden passports due to the lower investment thresholds as of 2020, according to Forbes.
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