Story by (Thibault Spirlet)

  • The Kremlin is seizing the passports of Russians under a new decree.
  • It targets include conscripts and people with state secrets.
  • Russia has used passport confiscation to stop people fleeing, and is likely doing the same here.

Russia is seizing the passports of thousands of Russians who are banned from traveling abroad, including people meant to fight in Ukraine, and those holding national secrets.

A new decree targets convicts, conscripts, employees of the Federal Security Service (FSB), or people with access to state secrets or “information of special importance,” according to Reuters.

Under the legislation, the people have to hand over their passports within five days, the independent Russian news outlet Meduza said.

Russia has already made moves to get hold of passports belonging to people who represent a flight risk.

Conscripts are an obvious target — those involuntarily recruited for fight in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may be reluctant to take part given the high casualty rates.

And holders of state secrets, by definition, have information that Russia would rather did not reach other countries.

In March, the UK’s Ministry of Defence reported that Russia confiscated the passports of some officials to stop them from fleeing the country or defecting.

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