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From birth Leonid lived in Ukraine. In the 1990s, he lost the passport of a citizen of the USSR, the only passport he had at that moment. Due to lack of need, the man never thought about renewing the documents and getting a Ukrainian passport in time.

But one day everything changed. In 2019 Leonid was given a disappointing diagnosis and required urgent surgery and treatment, which are impossible without documents. The man applied to the migration service for a passport of a citizen of Ukraine. In result of the inspection, he was denied on the grounds that his citizenship could not be established. Leonid was advised to apply to the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation for legal assistance.

The lawyer of our Foundation made several inquiries, prepared and submitted an application to the court to establish the fact of Leonid’s residence on the territory of Ukraine from the period of independence. As a result of a difficult trial, the fact of residence was established by the decision of the Leninsky District Court of Kharkiv.  In September 2020. After all the necessary documents were collected the procedure for Leonid’s citizenship of Ukraine was started.

On 1-st of December, Leonid received a certificate of registration as a citizen of Ukraine.  Immediately then, he submitted an application to obtain a passport of a citizen of Ukraine to the Kholodnohirsky Regional Department of the State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMSU) in Kharkiv region.

Thanks to the cooperation of the SMSU with the Right to Protection CF, as well as the great job done by the Migration Service staff, Leonid came into the New Year 2021 in a new status of a citizen of Ukraine. Now he can finally receive proper treatment, open his own bank account, exercise his civil and political rights, same as everyone else. 

Паспорт на Новий рік New Year Passport

As Leonid said, this was the best New Year gift for him:

«For a moment I felt completely desperate. I was prepared to live the rest of my life without a passport, although in reality I dreamed of receiving it one day. New Year is a magic time when all dreams come true! I believed in a miracle again!»

Recently we told the story of our another beneficiary Pavlo who was in a similar situation and had to live 27 years without a legal identity.


Due to the life circumstances Oleksandr became homeless. He lost his family, hope for the future and his overall health condition worsened much. The only thing he had is an old Soviet passport, which is completely useless today as there is no such country on the political map of the world.

For a long time Oleksandr has been living in a warehouse. In addition, the man had vision problems. 

Oleksandr contacted us for help in order to update his documents and obtain a passport of a citizen of Ukraine, which he never had. With the help of a lawyer from the Severodonetsk office of the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation, the necessary documents were collected. The department of the State Migration Service of Ukraine registered Oleksandr as a citizen of Ukraine even without the need of a court procedure.

After receiving his passport, Oleksandr was able to settle in a dormitory and receive much needed medical care. These holidays a man will finally meet in the warm.

Олександр нарешті отримав паспорт громадянина України Olexandr finally received the passport of a citizen of Ukraine


In December 2020, the dream of our beneficiary Mr. Mykhailo finally came true – he received a passport of a citizen of Ukraine.

For 2.5 years, lawyers of the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation worked actively to help Mykhailo obtain a passport. The process was quite a complicated one: court hearings, legal inquiries, cooperation with the State Migration Service of Ukraine and the Registry Office. But the end result was totally worth it!

Mykhailo was born in the Belarus SSR, where he received a passport at the age of 16. In 1988, the man permanently moved to the Ukrainian SSR to the city of Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, where he lived and worked all his life.

Although our beneficiary was employed, the fact of permanent residence on the territory of Ukraine as of August 24, 1991 was difficult to prove in court. The SMSU representative insisted on questioning at least one witness who could confirm the man’s residence in Ukraine.  Fortunately, such a witness was found and agreed to come to court.  In result, the court established legal fact of Mykhailo’s residence on the territory of Ukraine as of August 24, 1991.

But then another problem emerged – COVID-19 quarantine. Due to the restrictions imposed, Mykhailo could not obtain proof of citizenship for 9 months: in early 2020, the man applied to the Bakhmut City Department of the State Migration Service for a certificate of registration as a citizen of Ukraine and received it only in September.

With the certificate, the man was finally able to apply to the SMSU for a passport, but faced difficulties due to the lack of appropriate conditions for people with disabilities. On December 2 a monitor of the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation accompanied Mykhailo and helped him to receive a passport.

Михайло отримав паспорт Mykhailo received a passport of a citizen of Ukraine

It is probably unnecessary to remind that a passport is the most important document in the life of any person. But for Mr. Mykhailo that’s a vital document. Without a passport, he could not receive medical help and a pension, despite the fact of having 20 years of work experience. Finally, Mr. Mykhailo will feel what it is like to be a citizen and have equal opportunities and rights as all the other people!


Maria comes from Donetsk. She lived there all her life, but all this time she was a stateless person, legally nonexistent all this time.

The woman contacted the Kurakhiv office of the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation which is located in the Donetsk region. Immediately after that, she began actively collecting evidence to prove her residence in Ukraine as of 1991.

Although the court upheld the claim, the position of the State Migration Service of Ukraine has not changed and they are refusing to comply with the court’s decision.

We suggest you read this story from the own words of the lawyer of the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation Ruslan Bereteli, which he posted on his Facebook page

[English translation below]:


Sometimes it seems that very little can surprise me in my work. But no, when I listen to people’s stories I can’t understand how they overcome such obstacles in their lives, especially those that are artificially built by the state. 

One winter morning in 2020, Maria came to the office. “Simply María” – I thought. She sat on a chair and I listened to her story for almost an hour. Ms. Maria told how she grew up in Donetsk, how she went to school, worked, found a husband, one after another gave birth to two beautiful children and all this time she WASN’T, SHE DIDN’T EXIST.
Yes, you heard it right: SHE. DIDN’T. EXIST.

She was, but she did not exist in the legal field of the state, Maria had no rights. She gave birth to children who received no birth certificates. She couldn’t buy a plane or train ticket. She felt like a nobody.

I can’t remember such a motivated client in my work practice at our Kurakhiv field office yet. Every instruction on gathering evidence to prove residence in Ukraine as of 1991 was followed almost instantly. Relatives in Donetsk overturned both the school where Maria studied and the hospital where she was registered since her childhood, as well as the statement from the company where Maria’s mother worked. They found the student’s personal file, medical card, other certificates and much more…

Despite the numerous evidence which prove that Maria lived in Ukraine as of 1991,  representative of the State Migration Service of Ukraine was against the establishment of this fact.

The lawyer of the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation insisted on the position of our beneficiary in court. Despite the contrary position of the SMSU representative, the court granted the application. Cheers, victory, salute…

Though … “didn’t happen as should happen” – says Ukrainian wisdom.

As of now, the Migration Service department refuses to comply with the court’s decision, their employees do not provide the application form, demands the provision of some far-fetched evidence, offers to wait for the head, etc.

And Maria is still fighting to receive citizenship. She is looking right into the eyes of the state, which does not want to notice her.


[Original FB post in Ukrainian]:


Інколи мені здається,що вже мало що може здивувати мене у моїй роботі. Але ж ні, дивлюсь на людей і не…

Posted by Беретели Руслан on Tuesday, December 22, 2020


The Right to Protection Charitable Foundation presents a report on the situation with the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons. Despite the state’s efforts, some challenges remain unresolved for many years and are the subject of a review of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council.

The Report “Ensuring the Rights of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Stateless Persons” is an alternative view of non-governmental organizations on the state of implementation of recommendations received and supported by Ukraine in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review. The report was developed by the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation NEEKA Ukraine, The Tenth of April / Desyate Kvitnya NGO, Rokada Charitable Foundation, Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion (ISI) and with expert support from European Network on Statelessness.

«The preparation of the national interim report on the state of implementation of UPR recommendations is a good initiative to launch a dialogue between the public and the Government to address serious challenges and improve the rights of vulnerable groups,» 

said Ksenia Karagyaur, the Legal Analyst at Right to Protection CF.

Download the Report in




The problem of statelessness can happen to anyone. This can be the result of fire, any natural disaster or even fraud. And someone may fall victim to a bureaucratic mistake made in time of the fall of Soviet power.

The story of the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation beneficiary Ms. Olena began many years ago. The woman was born and lived in Ukraine for her whole life. Back in the days she had a Soviet passport.

For some time Olena was not registered at any place of residence. When a woman worked at the factory in Kharkiv, she did not have her own flat or house, as well as was not able to get a dormitory room, thus having no ability to receive registration of the place of residence. It was the year 1991. By the law, a person who officially resided in Ukraine as of August 24 and / or November 13, 1991 is considered a citizen. Despite the fact that Olena was officially employed, she could not prove her citizenship for many years.

Employees of the State Migration Service of Ukraine advised the women to apply for help to the office of the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation in Kharkiv. A number of lawyer’s requests were made and a statement to the court was prepared. During the proceedings, our lawyer represented Ms. Olena’s interests in the courts and proved that she had resided in Ukraine as of August 24, 1991.

Due to the high competence and efficiency of the management of the Kharkiv district department of the State Customs Service of Ukraine in Kharkiv region in the person of Dmytro Kolesnyk and Lilia Myshchenko, the procedure of establishing Olena’s identity was carried out, and all the necessary documents for passport issuance were collected and prepared.


«Finally, I feel like a full-fledged person, a citizen of my country, where I live from my birth. I am so happy!»,

– Says Olena, without hiding her tears of joy, after receiving the Ukrainian passport she had been dreaming of for almost 30 years.

Now, Olena finally can fully exercise all the rights granted by the Constitution and the Laws of Ukraine. Now she can officially work, receive medical and social assistance, buy property and real estate, land, as well as to enjoy full belonging to the citizenship of her Homeland.


Stateless persons are the people who are not recognized by any country in the whole world. However, we should bear in mind the distinction between officially recognized stateless persons and those who are not registered at all. Undocumented stateless persons face serious problems: they cannot officially work, enter into contracts, buy property, or just to live a usual life, like everybody else.

In 2020, several important steps in this case were taken by the government of Ukraine, one of which was the adoption of the Law of Ukraine «On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Concerning Recognition as a Stateless Person». Unfortunately, despite the fact that the law is already in force, it is still in the process of being enacted. The second problem is with the draft law «On Administrative Procedure», which also regulates the issue: it needs to be substantially finalized before preparation for the second reading.

We invite You to watch the video developed and created by the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), where all the key moments on the recognition as a stateless person in Ukraine are mentioned.

Particularly, the video provides answers to the following questions:

  • Who the procedure concerns;
  • Where to apply for the recognition as stateless person;
  • What the determination procedure will be like;
  • What are the grounds for denial for a recognition;
  • Which documents will confirm the status of the person;
  • Rights and opportunities of a stateless person;

(IN UKRAINIAN) Stateless persons in Ukraine in 2020: what will change after the enactment of legislative amendments

The contents of this material are the sole responsibility of the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation and cannot be used to reflect the views of UNHCR.


On November 26, 2020, the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation, which is the executive partner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ukraine (UNHCR), hosted an online School of Migration Law.

Law students from different cities and different universities of Ukraine had the opportunity to join the event, during which they were introduced to such concepts as “asylum seeker”, “recognized refugee”, “person in need of additional protection in Ukraine” and “stateless person”, and also received information on the legislation of Ukraine, which regulates the status of such persons in Ukraine.

Participants of the Migration School also had the opportunity to communicate with representatives of asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons in Ukraine, hear their personal stories, as well as learn about problems and difficulties they face often .

«The main purpose of the Migration School was to provide students with theoretical and practical information on the protection of the rights of recognized refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons in Ukraine, as well as to acquaint them with the practice of asylum seekers in the ECtHR. All participants were active and asked lots of questions to our lawyers, as well as wished the Migration School to be held more often»,

– summed up Oleksandra Lukyanenko, the lawyer at Right to Protection CF

Our Foundation expresses sincere gratitude to all the students who joined the online School!

Whole 3-hour video of the event is available for viewing


“I still can’t believe it’s all real,”

– our beneficiary said when she finally received her dream birthday present – a passport of a citizen of Ukraine.

Liuba is 37 years old. She was born and raised in a large family of Roma ethnicity. The family lived in hardships and often moved from place to place, later settling in a permanent residence in the Novovodolazk district of Kharkiv region. When Lyuba grew up, she was married in accordance with Roma tradition. The woman became stateless because her parents did not deal with the documents issue. Liuba gave birth to five children, but the two older ones were taken away from the woman due to lack of documents.

The woman’s plans for life changed dramatically when her parents’ house suddenly burned down.  Unable to withstand such a blow, Liuba’s father died of a heart attack. She was forced to return to the Kharkiv region to be able to support her mother. All this time Liuba tried to get a passport and repeatedly applied to the local “passport office”, but to no success.

Our colleagues learned about Liuba’s story from the partner organization Depol Ukraine Charity Foundation. Their representatives appealed to the Kharkiv office of the Right to Protection Charitable Foundation to help the woman obtain a passport.

Our Foundation lawyer made a number of inquiries to the state institutions to gather all the necessary documents to confirm Liuba’s citizenship. Under the current law, a woman’s nationality depended on the place of residence of her and / or her parents. In order to prove the fact that the family lived in their native village in 1991, a request was made to the village council.

After that, the citizenship of Liuba’s parents was confirmed and it was agreed with the leadership of the State Migration Service of Ukraine in the Kharkiv region to prove the personality of Liuba with the help of only one witness. And it was the woman’s sister Raya, who came from the Kirovohrad region with a 3 month-old child to help her sister with citizenship. However, discrepancies were found in the sisters’ birth certificates, which the lawyer had to correct.  Thanks to the help of employees of the Kholodnohirs’kyy district of the State Register of the Acts of a Civil Status in Kharkiv the documents were processed as soon as possible.

In the end, the State Migration Service of Ukraine in Kharkiv region issued a final positive decision on the identification of Liuba, as well as issued the passport of a citizen of Ukraine for the first time in her life. In fact, on the eve of her 38th birthday, Liuba’s most cherished dream – to receive the passport finally came true.

Now it’s time for the Liuba’s children and her youngest sister (in whose case the Kharkiv Court of Appeal issued a positive decision) to receive the documents. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.