According to preliminary data, about 1.6 million people live in the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), but the exact data is no known, stated Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for the Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Oleksii Reznikov in an interview LB.ua.
"Previously, according to the old data, there were about five million people living in the Donetsk region, and about two million in Luhansk. Total - seven. Since 2014, some of them left for Russia, some went to Crimea, some went to other parts of the world, some moved to the controlled part of Ukraine, some stayed there. We don't know the exact data. But if it is 10-15% of the population, it is already a lot," the Deputy Prime Minister said.
At the same time, according to him, about 198-200,000 people in DPR and LPR received Russian passports.
"Our "good" neighbors do not stop there. The Russian State Duma has abolished the government fee of 3500 rubles ($50 USD) for Ukrainians living in DPR and LPR, which had to be paid for the registration of citizenship of the Russian Federation. That's how they encourage obtaining passports. At the same time, we receive information about such "new Russians". They are not perceived as citizens of the Russian Federation. Basically, that was logical. ... Previously, local residents were forced to accept passports of unrecognized republics. And now, we know for sure, they are forced to take Russian citizenship while working in hospitals. And they don't want to do that. They are at the point of resigning, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic. The loss of Ukrainian citizenship is the loss of ability to travel freely around the world," Reznikov said.
At the same time, the Deputy Prime Minister expressed confidence that holders of Russian passports are likely to leave during the reintegration of the Donbas.
"They have parted with Ukraine by themselves. It will be easy for law enforcement agencies to find those who remained. This raises the question of transitional justice, how the population will integrate into the legal field of Ukraine. And when we talk about reintegration, it's important that we start adding a word that doesn't sound public in the lexicon yet - "safe" reintegration. I would like us to say that," Reznikov concluded.