ST. PETERSBURG, March 31 (Xinhua) -- St. Petersburg began issuing national passports on Monday to residents of Crimea and Sevastapol following the regions' accession to Russia.
Two new windows had been opened at a local Passport Office to allow Crimeans residing in St. Petersburg to obtain Russian passports.
"To date, we have received around 500 passport applications from citizens of Crimea and Sevastapol," said Elena Dunaeva, head of the St. Petersburg and Leningrad branch of Russia's Federal Migration Service.
"We are doing all we can to ensure that those who have applied receive their Russian passports as soon as possible," she added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crimean leaders signed a treaty on March 18 to make the Crimean peninsula part of Russian territory following a referendum, during which around 97 percent of the Crimean voters backed splitting from Ukraine.
Over 1,000 Cirmeans, newly eligible for Russian passports, are living in St. Petersburg and Leningrad.