Some Russians still live in the USSR

Igor Bukker

The opportunity for Russians to exchange a Soviet passport for the passport of the citizen of the Russian Federation ended on July 1, 2004.

Nevertheless, about 5,000 residents of the city of Sverdlovsk refused to exchange their old passports.

Do those people feel nostalgic about the erstwhile superpower or are they just stuck-in-the-mud kind of people?

A local Russian news agency says that many of those "Soviet passport people" ask officers from the migration services to glue in new photos in their invalid passports. Some others decided not to exchange their Soviet passports for Russian ones in order not to pay the state duty of 1,000 rubles ($30). There are also Russians who say that the new passport insults their religious feelings.

Some still prefer to keep the passports that they have been holding for many years. Antonina Pronina, a 45-year-old woman from Vladivostok, turned to the courts in an attempt to give a new life to her "hammer and sickle" ID.

Pronina brought her new photo to the passport office and demanded that it be glued in the passport that no one accepts as a document anymore in the country. Officers refused to comply with her request.

Pronina was determined not to give up, so she took legal action. Surprisingly, the court ruled that the passport of the Soviet citizen was valid and had no expiry date. The judge ordered the local passport service to glue her new photo in the passport of the citizen of the USSR.

One may say that a human being is supposed to have an ID only if he or she needs the document. Odd situations involving Soviet passports issued back in 1974 continue to occur today.

It seems that a number of Russians do not understand whether Soviet passports are valid for the citizens of the Russian Federation and on what grounds they can be valid. Officials do not provide any clear explanation to the problem either.

Russian online and print media often publish information saying that the term of validity of the Soviet passport has expired. As a rule, such reports do not say that the regulation touches upon only those people, who do not hold the Russian citizenship (the migrants from former Soviet republics, for instance).

The majority of Soviet passport owners hold the certificate of citizenship. The certificate makes the USSR passport automatically valid. If a person has the certificate of the Russian Federation citizenship, the Soviet passports from 1974 are considered legally valid.

There are individuals who refused to exchange their old passports for religious reasons. They have a right to do this in accordance with Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. This seems to be an absolutely absurd situation. There was no religion in the Soviet Union, whereas religious Soviet citizens did not have any complaints about "godless" Soviet passports.

Those people claim that the ornamental design of the inner pages of the modern Russian passport contains the "number of the beast" - 666.

Russians who did not exchange their passport and do not hold the Russian Federation certificate of citizenship will inevitably experience a whole bouquet of problems connected with the execution of their constitutional rights - a passport is required to conclude legal and financial agreements.

The parents, who decided not to exchange their passports, infringe upon the rights of their underage children. The children of such parents will not be able to receive their own passports of the Russian Federation. They will not be able to apply to study at an educational institution. They will not be able to have the foreign travel passport. Just like their parents, they will not be legally recognized as a citizen of their country.

*Iggor Bukker writes for online journal