A large queue of people looking to apply for Russian citizenship formed in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree signed a decree allowing residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions to request Russian citizenship via expedited procedure.
"It is very important for me. And despite everything, even if it was snowing or raining, I would stand in the line for this passport. It is very important for me," one Lugansk resident said.
"Thanks to the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin for such a gift during Easter, the first of May. We waited for a long time for this, five years," another resident said.
"We waited for this very much and we are proud that Vladimir Vladimirovich issued this decree to us yesterday. We are happy. We are overwhelmed with pride that we can finally say that we have become part of the Russian Federation and the Russian people because we are such," a resident said.
On Wednesday, Putin signed a decree simplifying the procedure for obtaining Russian citizenship for Donbass residents, calling it "a purely humanitarian issue," and noting that Moscow has "no desire to create problems for the new Ukrainian authorities."
Outgoing President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and elected head of state Vladimir Zelenskiy have since condemned the decree. Poroshenko has called the decree "Russia's unprecedented interference in the domestic affairs of an independent state."