BUCHAREST - Dodgy dealers in Romanian nationality can conjure up genuine documents for fake applicants, and with it the right to work within the EU.

In 2007 Romania joined the European Union, bringing into it an issue that many Western countries consider a problem: the Republic of Moldova. The country carries on its shoulders its complex political history, in which it was sent swinging from the Russian Empire, to a union with Romania in 1918, back to Soviet rule in 1944, until it finally gained independence in 1991.

Also in 1991, Bucharest adopted a law granting foreign nationals of Romanian descent the right to become citizens of the country. In 2004, 71% of the population of the Republic of Moldova was registered as having the Romanian nationality. Against that background, it is not hard to understand the surge of citizenship demands that occurred once Romania joined the EU.

Romanian journalist Adrian Mogos and Moldovan journalist Vitalie Calugareanu investigated the grey zone these citizenship applications go through.

They followed a man named Vladimir, who today is entitled by law to acquire the Romanian citizenship that was taken from his grandparents long before the country joined the EU. The only problem is; his ancestry is a complete invention.

Certificates that Mogos and Calugareanu acquired from the Moldovan state archive reveal a past rich in historical coincidence. Not only is the name of his grandmother supposedly Svetlana Alliluyeva, the name Stalin’s daughter, she was also born on exactly the same day. This would technically make Vladimir Stalin’s great-grandson, which is dubious to say the least. What’s more is that his illustrious grandmother is stated to have been married to one Ostap Bender, who happens to share a name with the con-man antihero of the Soviet novel The Golden Calf.

Ostap’s Moldovan birth certificate says he was born on June 28, 1914 – the day of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, and the start of the First World War. The marriage certificate meanwhile shows that Ostap and Svetlana tied the knot on September 2, 1945: the day Japan surrendered to the US.

It is highly unlikely that a woman named after Stalin’s daughter took a husband named after a fictitious Soviet trickster on the day the Second World War ended. Today, however, it is entirely possible for a man claiming to be their descendant to buy the right to work in the EU. All he needs is patience, cash, and the right connections among the citizenship brokers and corrupt bureaucrats of Bucharest and Chisinau.

Read the full story on BalkanInsight.

Team members

Adrian (Andi) Mogoş

Adrian Mogoş is a freelance journalist from Romania.

Adrian (Andi) Mogoş

Vitalie Calugareanu

Vitalie Calugareanu is a Moldovan journalist.

Vitalie Calugareanu
Grant of €3.540 awarded on 5 October 2011


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