Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) currently has a practice of calling foreign citizens from the countries of Central Asia (labor migrants) to answer for the lack of obligatory medical insurance policy. Crossing the border to the Russian Federation without such a policy is qualified as a violation of article 27, section 5 of the federal law “On entry and exit from the Russian Federation” and of article 18.8, section 3 of the Code on administrative violations. Starting August 2013 administrative deportation from the Russian Federation is practiced as a required punishment for this violation in Saint Petersburg and Leningrad region. ADC “Memorial” is of the opinion that this practice runs contrary to the existing legislation and violates Russia’s international obligations, as it in fact illegally excludes the citizens of Central Asian countries from the existing agreement “On providing medical assistance to the citizens of countries – participants of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)”.
ADC “Memorial” was approached by a citizen of Uzbekistan, Mr. Mirzovokhid A., who asked to help him appeal the decision of Nevsky district court of Saint Petersburg, requiring administrative deportation from the Russian Federation based on the absence of obligatory medical insurance policy. Lawyers of ADC “Memorial” made an appeal against this court decision to the Saint Petersburg city court and stated their arguments concerning illegality of calling for answer for the lack of insurance policy.
Article 27 of the federal law “On entry and exit from the Russian Federation” lists the grounds, which can be reasons for ban on entry of a foreign citizen to the Russian Federation, and the law lists all such reasons, without dividing foreign citizens onto those coming from countries, which require having visas to enter Russia, and those, which don’t. Section 4 of this article lists non-provision of documents when applying for a visa to Russia as a reason for refusal of entry. But this regulation obviously concerns only citizens of countries, for which an entry visa to Russia is required.
Existing agreement between the governments of Russian Federation and Republic of Uzbekistan concerning mutual visits between the two countries (Protocol dated July 13, 2005) gives a list of documents which are to be provided by citizens of Uzbekistan to gain entry to the Russian Federation (Appendix 2) and the obligatory medical insurance policy is not listed there. For some of the CIS countries, which have signed an intergovernmental agreement of CIS countries dated March 27, 1997 “On providing medical assistance to the citizens of countries – participants of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)” (these include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia (with reservations), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine (with reservations)), the functions of a policy of obligatory medical insurance for foreign citizens (including provision of urgent medical assistance) can be performed by this very agreement. Official website of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Uzbekistan, which is the official source of information concerning the regulation on entry to Russia, also refers to this regulation and gives a list of countries (excluding the CIS countries), for which an obligatory medical insurance policy is required (see: http://www.russia.uz/index.php/2009-08-16-11-04-17/2009-08-18-14-53-00).
In order to confirm the position held by ADC “Memorial” we have sent a request to the legal department of the Ministry of foreign affairs of the Russian Federation, which is authorized to give clarifications to people and organizations concerning the issues related to international law. We asked to clarify if the requirement of having a policy of obligatory medical insurance for citizens of Uzbekistan is in line with the international agreements signed by the Russian Federation. We plan to use the reply we receive from the Ministry of foreign affairs for an appeal and defense of the rights of the claimant.
An indirect confirmation of illegality of requiring an insurance policy is the recent legal proposal by the deputies of the State Duma concerning introduction of obligatory medical insurance policies for migrants (http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2250141). Although this legal proposal was not yet adopted by the parliament , officers of FMS had been calling to answer labor migrants for the lack of the medical insurance policy and the courts confirm these decisions by not questioning legality of these requirements in terms of existing Russian legislation and Russia’s international obligations. We hope that a court appeal will help to stop the practice of illegal requiring of insurance policies from labor migrants from the Central Asian countries while they cross the border of the Russian Federation, as this practice is aimed not to provide quality medical assistance to foreign citizens, but to inflict on foreign citizens additional responsibilities not outlined by law, while at the same time introducing legal responsibility for their non-observation.