Russian Immigrant Denied Canadian Citizenship for Speaking Out Against Russia’s Aggression in Ukraine

(NA)

Maria Kartasheva, a Russian migrant in Canada may be denied citizenship and potentially be deported because she was convicted of a “crime” back in Russia. What was her heinous offense? She wrote blog posts condemning Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and war crimes committed by Russian troops there:

Kartasheva’s blog posts condemning the invasion of Ukraine and atrocities committed by Russian forces ran afoul of new draconian Russian laws criminalizing dissent on the war. A Russian court convicted her in absentia, and sentenced her to an eight-year prison sentence. Ironically, the judge who sentenced Kartasheva is under sanctions by Canada, for her role in perpetrating human rights violations. Yet Canadian immigration authorities are relying on her decision in this case as a reason to deny citizenship.

There is much stupidity and downright evil in US immigration law and policy. But if Canadian authorities don’t reverse this decision, it would be up there with some of the worst of ours.

If anything, Kartasheva’s conviction for speaking out against the war should help her cause, not hurt it. Like the US, Canada has a law granting refugee or asylum status to people who have a “well-founded fear of persecution” for their political views. If anyone has such a “well-founded fear,” it’s a person who faces a lengthy prison sentence for speaking out against her government’s war of aggression and atrocities.

Last year, Canada granted refugee status to a young Russian fleeing conscription into Putin’s war. Kartasheva’s case is at least equally worthy. And the idea that her conviction is a crime meriting denial of citizenship in a liberal democratic society is absurd.

Since the start of the conflict, I have been making the case that Western nations should open their doors to Russians fleeing Putin’s regime, on both moral and strategic grounds. For some of my writings on this topic, see here, here, here, and here. But even those unwilling to go as far in this direction as I advocate should at least be open to accepting Russians who face persecution and imprisonment for speaking out against the war.