Native of Kyrgyzstan Andrei B. has been held in a foreign national detention center twice – his is one of the many cases of stateless people being repeatedly deemed “violators of migration laws” and deprived of liberty for extended periods, even though none of them can be deported to any country. Stateless people also cannot legalize their residence in Russia, even though the European Court has recommended this general measure and Russia has amended its laws.
Andrei B. was first arrested and placed in a foreign national detention center (FNDC) in 2019; he spent 12 months there “prior to expulsion,” which could not be carried out. The court incorrectly determined that he was a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic, even though he voluntarily renounced his Kyrgyz citizenship in 2018: This was a condition for submitting an application for Russian citizenship (Andrei planned to move to Russia to help his mother). His application was rejected, and he decided to submit another application upon his arrival in Russia. His second attempt was also unsuccessful. This is when he was sent to an FNDC for violating migration laws. The attorney Olga Tseytlina was able to secure his release in the summer of 2020 by proving the senselessness of his detention after the Kyrgyz government confirmed that he was no longer a citizen.
B. again attempted to legalize his status upon his release, but he received another rejection and was taken into custody because it turned out that he was on the wanted list in Kyrgyzstan. He spent six months in a pretrial detention center, but he could not be extradited without documents and the maximum term for his detention expired. On April 21, 2021, several days after his release, B. was again arrested by police officers for not having documents confirming his right to be in Russia, and he again found himself in an FNDC “until expulsion.”
Andrei B.’s release was only attained in August 2021. In her appeal, his attorney cited the judgment issued by Russia’s Constitutional Court in the case of N. Mskhiladze and proved that there were no legal or achievable goals from keeping him in an FNDC.
Amendments to the law “On the Legal Situation of Foreign Nationals in the Russian Federation” entered into force on August 24, 2021. Under these amendments, stateless persons can apply for a “document issued to a stateless person to confirm their identity and temporary residence in the Russian Federation” for a period of 10 years. Until now, it has been almost impossible to legalize undocumented stateless persons, and it is still unclear how the recent amendments will work. Repressive judicial practices in relation to stateless persons must end, and the procedure for documenting and legalizing residence in Russia must be quick and transparent.