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    Russia extends citizenship deadline for ex-Soviet nationals

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    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed into law on Monday an extension to the deadline for Soviet citizens living legally in Russia to apply for fast-tracked citizenship, the Kremlin press service said.

    MOSCOW, January 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed into law on Monday an extension to the deadline for Soviet citizens living legally in Russia to apply for fast-tracked citizenship, the Kremlin press service said.

    Under Clause 14 of the Federal Law on Citizenship of the Russian Federation, foreign citizens and stateless persons who were previously citizens of the Soviet Union and were legally registered in Russia before July 1, 2002, can receive preferential treatment when applying for Russian citizenship.

    The deadline for applications is now July 1, 2009.

    Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov said on Monday that Russia could expect a surge in citizenship applications from former Soviet nationals following the global financial crisis.

    "It is obvious that Russia, with its economic potential, will be a safer bet than many of its neighbors," he told journalists, adding that Russia was interested in former Soviet citizens becoming naturalized Russians.

    "I hope that officials at all levels will give comprehensive assistance and support to those wishing to receive Russian citizenship under the simplified rules," Mironov said.

    The Federal Migration Service said in November that up to 400,000 people receive Russian citizenship a year.

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