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Ukrainian lawmaker seeks ethnicity listing in passports

(JTA) — A lawmaker for Ukraine’s largest opposition party proposed legislation that could identify Jews and other minorities in official documents. 

Oleg Kanivets of the All-Ukrainian Union Fatherland party led by Yulia Tymoshenko this week submitted a bill to parliament which would “amend the Family Code so that the ethnicity of children could be indicated on birth certificates,” according to a report in the newspaper Kommersant-Ukraine. 

The newspaper quotes as planning to submit a second bill which would indicate “nationality” in Ukrainian passports.

Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, told JTA he believed that the bills were an attempt to “bring back the infamous listing of ethnic origin” in passports during the Soviet era.

The report did not say when parliament would vote on the bill submitted by Kanivets.

In the USSR, passports carried an indication of ethnic origins known as natsionalnost or “pyatii punkt” — the fifth line. The listing was seen as a mechanism to implement institutionalized discrimination and state-sponsored anti-Semitism. 

Kanivets’ center-right party controls 156 seats out of the Ukrainian parliament’s 450 seats after the October general election, and is the largest party in the opposition.

The ultra-nationalist Svoboda party – known for its members’ anti-Semitic rhetoric – won 10 percent of the vote and holds 38 seats. It received less than one percent of the vote in the previous elections.

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