Absurd court ruling: migrants allowed into Russia only to be arrested and deported for previous offense

On October 23, 2018 St. Petersburg city court rejected the legal complaint filed by lawyer Olga Tseitlina concerning earlier ruling by the Moscow district court of St. Petersburg on fining and expelling two citizens of Tajikistan, who had been accused of violations of the immigration legislation of the Russian Federation more than a year ago. The two had earlier left the Russian territory without any trouble and had not been notified that they would be brought to justice on their next entry into the country.

On September 27, 2018, the citizens of Tajikistan S. and T. were detained by the Russian border guards during a passport check in Pulkovo Airport. It was revealed that during their previous stay in Russia, they had violated their terms of stay in the country. On the same day, both migrants were sentenced by court to a fine of Rb 5,000 each and expulsion from the Russian Federation with prior placement into the centre for temporary detention of foreign nationals.

With the assistance of Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” and lawyer Olga Tseitlina, S. and T. decided to appeal to the St. Petersburg city court with a legal request to replace the forced expulsion from the country and prior detention in the centre for temporary detention of foreign nationals with an independent departure from the country, while they themselves would pay the fines in advance and buy themselves airplane tickets for Dushanbe. However, the court left the earlier ruling unchanged, referring herewith to Section 12 Part 1 of Article 27 114 of the federal law № “On the procedure for departure from the Russian Federation and entry into the Russian Federation”. The law states, in particular, that if a foreign citizen exceeded the allowed period of stay in the Russian Federation during his previous stay, but left within 180 days, he would be banned to enter Russia for a period of 3 years from the date of his departure from the Russian Federation. At the same time, entry into Russia for both migrants was not legally forbidden, as was evident by the absence of such a statement in the court ruling itself, and the claimants were not charged with unlawful entry into the Russian Federation, but with a violation of the terms of stay and dates of departure, which had been committed earlier.

Such a position of the court contradicts the position of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, which had been explained in the legal complaint made by Noe Mskhiladze, according to which his placement into the centre for temporary detention of foreign nationals was not a separate punishment, but a measure aimed at execution of the prior expulsion order, and therefore required proof that the order could not be otherwise executed. In its ruling, the city court did not take into account that S. and T. had expressed their desire to leave the territory of the Russian Federation on their own, and the court did not prove the necessity of depriving them of their liberty for an indefinite period of time.

Thus, instead of immediately prohibiting S. and T. from entering Russia, the law enforcement agencies and the courts, which had backed them, subjected migrants to an absurd and extremely inhumane incarceration into the centre for temporary detention of foreign nationals, where they have to stay until this day and wait for the expulsion, which would be carried out at the expense of the federal Russian budget (because the tickets that S. and T. had bought on their own have disappeared).

ADC “Memorial” in cooperation with lawyer Olga Tseitlina prepares supervisory legal complaints on the cases of S. and T. Although the supervisory authority does not imply the possible cancellation of an earlier adopted court ruling and this will not speed up the process of expulsion from the country, such a decision will be important for the protection of foreign citizens in similar cases in the future.