‘One day, I presented my statelessness document to the bank (which stated “nationality: stateless-stateless”). They asked me: “where is the country “stateless” located?”
PARIS, FRANCE, October 20 – Anastasia was born in a plane en route from Russia to Uzbekistan in 1985 when both countries were still part of the Soviet Union. The only document her parents obtained for her after that was a birth certificate. After being stateless for 29 years, she finally acquired French citizenship in 2014.
Originally her mother is from Penza, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, USSR and her father is from Sumi, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, USSR.
Anastasia arrived in France when she was 14 and was able to enrol at school. She had trouble with passing the graduation exam because of the lack of documentation, but thanks to the goodwill of her teachers, she was able to graduate. However, due to her statelessness, she has not been able to continue her studies and has undertaken a number of training courses.
Anastasia clearly remembers the day when her and her parents’ applications for refugee status was denied: February 8, 2005. That is the night she gave birth to her first child, baby girl Alexandra. After that, the nightmare begun. The doctors that have just delivered the baby did not want to give Alexandra back to Anastasia due to the lack of any proof that Anastasia was actually who she claimed to be. They told her: ‘We will give you the baby if you prove us who you are’. Her spouse, Alexandra’s father was able to take the baby since he had Russian citizenship. They managed to obtain a birth certificate for Alexandra but were told at the Russian Embassy that Alexandra was not eligible for Russian citizenship because her mother could not present any ID document. Thus, Anastasia who is now 12 years old, has been stateless for 10 years. Statelessness was passed from Anastasia not only to Alexandra, but also to her second child, Charles-Henri. Luckily, both Alexandra and Charles-Henri obtained French citizenship automatically after Anastasia got hers in 2014. ‘My kids know what their roots are, but they say they are French’.
Anastasia was officially recognized as stateless by the French authorities in 2008, after she started the procedure in 2004. The day she received the official letter by registered post, she went to the Post office where she was told ‘you cannot have the letter if you do not prove you identity’. To get it, she had to request help from city hall employees who know her personally.
She eventually managed to get married in 2009: ‘We have tried to get married previously, but they [the competent authorities] would not allow us because I did not have any nationality. It was always the same: they were asking me to prove where I was from’.
In 2014, Anastasia was finally able to apply for French citizenship. Before that, she could not because she was requested to bring documents she did not possess (at the prefecture, for instance, they asked her to present a passport).
Despite all those difficulties, she finally became a French citizen in 2014. ‘When I received French citizenship, I finally felt like the doors opened to me, but now I feel it’s time to close that door and move on with my life’. She is happy to be French, ‘Despite all the problems I had, France is the country that welcomed me.’
Please sign our Open Letter to end statelessness so that everyone can say IBelong.