GOOD NEWS: We successfully resolved the case of a 52-year-old Bulgarian citizen who realized that he did not exist

In 2021, we were contacted by a client whose problem at first glance sounded like a “Catch 22”, or in other words – a paradoxical situation with contradictory conditions that practically make the exit impossible.

The main character of this story was born in 1970 in Bulgaria, in the family of a father – a Bulgarian citizen and a mother – a citizen of the then USSR. At birth, the same person receives a personal identification number, is issued a birth certificate and is entered in the register of the National Database “Population” as a Bulgarian citizen. Throughout his conscious life, our client has had valid Bulgarian identity documents – incl. identity card, driver’s license, international passport. As a Bulgarian citizen, he exercised all the rights and obligations of such a citizen, incl. he also served regular conscript military service in the ranks of the Bulgarian army.

And so until March 2018, when due to a combination of circumstances, our client lost his birth certificate and submitted a request to the Municipality of Sofia for the issuance of a duplicate. However, in the duplicate issued to him, he found with bewilderment that in the column “Citizenship” was entered: “USSR”, although at that moment he appeared in all national registers as a Bulgarian citizen and possessed valid Bulgarian identity documents.

An admin error that literally and figuratively erased several years from our client’s life.

Our client immediately informs the Municipal Administration about the mistake made and expects to be issued a duplicate of the Birth Certificate, in which his citizenship is correctly reflected – Bulgarian, not USSR. A check was carried out which found that our client’s Birth Certificate contained a ‘note’ entered in 1971 by a Civil Registration Officer stating that the person’s parents had applied for their child’s nationality of the USSR, on the basis of Article 1 of the Convention between the NRB and the USSR to prevent the occurrence of dual citizenship, in force from 19.01.1967. It is with the “note” in question that the Metropolitan Municipality, supported in its opinion by the Ministry of Justice, argued before our client for the “correction” of citizenship in the duplicate issued to him from the Birth Certificate, regardless of the fact that the “note” was noticed around 50 years later (during which our client was considered a Bulgarian citizen), as well as that the Petition itself from his parents, described in it, “has not been discovered”.

Our client is convinced that this is a mistake. He knows the will of his now deceased parents, who raised him in a spirit of patriotism and national belonging to the Bulgarian state, and he does not allow that they would choose for him a citizenship other than the Bulgarian one. And yet, in order to check whether the “error is true”, our client makes an inquiry to the Consular Department at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Belarus. He was issued with an official certificate from the Embassy, ​​which confirms that: “neither he nor his parents have taken any steps and have not submitted any applications for the acquisition of citizenship of the Russian Federation” (legal successor of the former USSR after its collapse in 1991) and he “never acquired citizenship of the Russian Federation /or USSR/, according to the legislation of the Russian Federation on citizenship and does not currently have the citizenship of the Russian Federation”. This certificate, however, also does not change the opinion of the Metropolitan Municipality and it refuses to correct the error.

Instead, in January 2021, with a letter from the Mayor of the Capital Municipality – Serdika District, our client was informed that due to the choice of USSR citizenship made by his parents, “his citizenship in the National Database “Population ” will be corrected to: “USSR” and should return to the relevant RU of the SDVR the identity documents in his possession, which have been declared invalid.

This person was literally “erased”.

When checking in the Unified System for Civil Registration and Administrative Services of the Population (ESGRAON), it turns out that a Bulgarian citizen with such a name does not exist, and when checking an identity document – that it is invalid and subject to confiscation.

From that moment on, our client was practically stateless and undocumented, and several painful years followed, in which he endured all the negatives that resulted. He is deprived of basic human rights such as the right to legally work, to have access to social security, free medical care and health care, as well as to civil and political rights such as the freedom to travel outside the country, voting rights, etc. But here the question arises – how a person who does not exist documentarily, is not a citizen of any country and does not have valid identity documents could apply for the acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship under the relevant legal order. There is no answer.

Our intervention was requested by our client at a time when he had exhausted all possible options to obtain voluntary assistance from the municipal and state administration, incl. the Ombudsman and the President of the Republic of Belarus. Quick and adequate professional decisions had to be made, because for a person placed in such an impasse, every day missed counts. After making sure that there was no desire for dialogue on the part of the administration, we decided to fight for our client’s rights in court. The battle was not going to be easy, given that we had to overcome the entire clumsy and bureaucratic, but at the same time unanimous state apparatus supporting the thesis of the Metropolitan Municipality that nothing could be done.

And so, after successfully conducted by lawyer Mariana Kireva – a long-time member of our team, complicated legal proceedings, which took place in two instances with many twists and turns and many unknowns, we hold in our hands an effective court decision of the Sofia City Court, by virtue of which Sofia Municipality is obliged to make the necessary correction of citizenship in the birth certificate of our client.

After the amendment, he will again be entered in the population registers as a Bulgarian citizen, and his personal documents will be validly reissued.


The satisfaction of a job well done and the restoration of justice is our mission and goal, which justifies all the efforts!



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