A Russian Dissident’s Fraught Path to Canadian Citizenship

When Maria Kartasheva appeared at a Canadian citizenship ceremony last June, she thought she would be cutting up her permanent resident card and taking an oath. Instead, officials blocked her from participating, saying that her criminal charges in Russia, for criticizing the war in Ukraine, might disqualify her from citizenship.

Maria Kartasheva at home in Ottawa. A Russian dissident, she was sentenced by a Moscow court to eight years in prison for spreading “false information” about the war in Ukraine.Credit…Dave Chan for The New York Times

On Tuesday afternoon, she finally took her oath in a virtual ceremony from her home in Ottawa and became a Canadian citizen. But the moment came after what she described as a nerve-racking seven-month saga that included a frenzied effort to garner public support for her case. If she had been returned to Russia, as Canada was contemplating, an eight-year prison sentence awaited.

“I put all that hope in Canada only to be betrayed,” said Ms. Kartasheva, 30. “And so who would care about me? I was very scared that no one would want to support me.”

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