On Saturday, the Kremlin media office announced that President V V Putin signed a decree that declared documents issued by the Lugansk Peoples Republic (LNR) and Donetsk Peoples Republic (DNR) valid in Russia. The media release stated:
We hereby declare that IDs, academic certificates, birth certificates, marriage or divorce certificates, name changes documents, death certificates, transport registration certificates, and vehicle license plates issued by corresponding local authorities to permanent residents of these regions who are citizens of Ukraine or are stateless are valid.
Later that day, LNR Head of State I V Plotnitsky praised the decision:
Russian President Vladimir Putin made a fateful decision. This is another sign that our Republic achieved statehood. Today, we made a step closer toward international recognition of our sovereignty.
Meanwhile, DNR Head of State A V Zakharchenko told us:
The decree proved that Russia has always upheld and will continue to uphold our right to defend our lives, our culture, our language, and our dignity. If the Motherland is adamant about standing by our side and supporting our fight, then, our fight is fair, our sacrifices aren’t in vain, and it justifies our hopes.
On Saturday, Minster of Foreign Affairs S V Lavrov said that the issue of recognising DNR/LNR documents wasn’t brought up during foreign ministers’ talks in the so-called Normandy Four format in Munich, noting:
The decree stated clearly that we made this decision out of humanitarian concerns until we can fulfil the Minsk agreements. The presidential decree validated IDs of Donbass residents so that they could enter Russia legally and use Russian rail transport and air carriers.
18 February 2017