Ukrainians owe this innovation to the war on terror. At least, this is what the Interior Ministry claims. According to Vasyl Hrytsak, chief of the ministry’s resource department, participants at the 33rd regional conference of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) admitted that traditional passports are very easy to forge, which leads terrorists and other criminal elements to make wide use of such forged documents. Ukraine has pledged to comply with the resolutions and provisions of the Warsaw Antiterrorist Conference and is the first CIS country that has begun to boost the level of passport security. We already have a sample new passport of a Ukrainian citizen with 25 levels of protection. This will be a single external and internal passport, the kind that has long been in use in the West. This does not mean Ukrainians will be immediately stripped of the two kinds of passports they have now. All issued external passports will be valid for ten years from the date of issue, while current internal passports may be used indefinitely. However, according to Valentyn Muzyka, chief of the securities department at the Ministry of Finance, this will only be the case if the world community does not rule against the use of passports with glued-on photos. People who are not planning to go abroad can either exchange their old passport for a new one or continue using the old one. Globetrotters can obtain the new external-cum-internal passport as early as December, or whenever their current foreign travel passport expires. Mr. Hrytsak promised that all border security agencies of the world would be warned about the different types of Ukrainian passports. Those who turn sixteen will be issued only the new passport. To obtain a new passport, individuals must submit the same documents as before: a copy of their birth certificate, a copy of their identification code, the internal passport, if available, and, if necessary, a memo from the military recruitment and registration office. The Interior Ministry does not expect any disputes over the new passports.
The new Ukrainian passport has a fine blue gold-embossed binding and contains 32 pages. Mr. Hrytsak assured journalists that after page 6, none of the pages repeat. Every successive page depicts the emblem and ornament of a Ukrainian oblast, the Crimean Autonomous Republic, and the cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol — a mini-travel guide, as it were. But what radically distinguishes the new passport from the old one is a computer-read page that contains basic information about the bearer, including a “digitalized” picture and personal signature. This page is made of a multi-layered polymer called polycarbonate. All the information is laser-embedded into the polycarbonate’s inner layer. The pages feature a host of innovative protective techniques: there is even a map of Ukraine that changes color depending on the angle from which you look at it. It is also possible to introduce additional biometric data into the new passport. Some countries include on their passports not only the digital image of the bearer’s face but two fingerprints as well. For the time being, Ukraine is unlikely to introduce this innovation: although it is not that difficult to place this information on passports, this country still lacks a well-developed readout infrastructure.
In general, the passport, which will be produced in Kyiv, meets International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards. Although there are no technical or technological obstacles to the mass production of the new passports, they will not be available until the Cabinet of Minister passes relevant resolutions in December. The ministries of finance and internal affairs refuse to disclose what this innovation will cost Ukraine because no final calculations have been made. Ukrainians will have to shell out 175 hryvnias for the new passport.