ASHGABAT -- Turkmen officials have resumed issuing travel passports to residents with dual Turkmen-Russian citizenship following President Serdar Berdymukhammedov's visit to Russia earlier this month.
RFE/RL correspondents in Ashgabat reported on June 21 that Turkmenistan’s Migration Service announced that Turkmen citizens who obtained Russian citizenship after 2003 will now be eligible to apply for a Turkmen passport after almost two decades of waiting.
A Turkmen-Russian agreement on dual citizenship was signed in 1993. But in April 2003, the agreement was cancelled by Turkmenistan even though the Russian Embassy in Ashgabat continued to issue Russian passports for dual nationals in Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan then forced dual nationals to choose between Turkmen and Russian citizenship and refused to issue Turkmen passports to those who wanted to preserve both nationalities. That move prompted many dual nationals to choose Russian citizenship and leave the country they were born in. In mid-2019, Turkmenistan allowed some dual nationals, mostly children and the elderly, to have Turkmen passports. The Migration Service has also announced in recent days that dual nationals who had officially filed papers to reject their Turkmen citizenship but haven't had their cases heard yet can withdraw their requests and preserve both citizenships. The changes come after Berdymukhammedov paid an official visit to Russia in June 10, where he met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. This was the 40-year-old leader's first trip abroad since he was inaugurated as head of the extremely isolated Central Asian country in March after his father, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, stepped down. The tightly-controlled former Soviet Republic tolerates no political opposition or free press. Under Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, living standards plummeted even though the country sits on the world's fourth-largest reserve of natural gas and prices for the commodity are surging.