Arkhangelsk court supported the right of stateless person for defense against arbitrary imprisonment

Tadzhikistan native Khurshed Mardonshoyev was freed from Saint Petersburg centre for detention of foreign nationals following 10 months imprisonment thanks to the efforts of his lawyer supported by ADC “Memorial”. This case was in many ways similar to the case of “Kim v. Russia”, which had been previously won in the European Court for Human Rights (ECtHR) concerning violation of several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

As a stateless person Khurshed Mardonshoyev lived in Arkhangeslk region and was arrested in October 2014 by the police during an identity check. He had been placed into a local detention centre, which later burned down, and thus Mardonshoyev was transferred into a similar detention centre for foreign nationals in Saint Petersburg. Lawyer of ADC “Memorial” Yury Serov made an appeal to Plesetsk district court (Arkhangelsk region), which later ruled to deport Mardonshoyev. In his appeal the lawyer stated that a stateless person could not be deported from Russia to any other country and thus Mr.Mardonshoyev had to be freed from detention centre for foreign nationals. Plesetsk district court had initially refused a positive ruling on the appeal referring to the fact that the period of Mr.Mardonshoyev’s detention in the centre for foreign nationals was 8 months at the time of court hearings and was not over the maximal term of 2 years set by the Russian laws while the lack of citizenship – in a paradoxical way – doesn’t prevent the possibility of deportation from Russia.

The lawyer appealed this court ruling in Arkhangelsk regional court, which subsequently overruled earlier court ruling and returned the case for reconsideration stating that the resolution on deportation didn’t specify the period of detention in the centre for foreign nationals, thus de facto making Mr.Mardonshoyev’s detention there indefinite. While considering this appeal against an earlier ruling Plesetsk district court agreed that Mardonshoyev’s deportation from Russia was not possible and ruled to free him from detention centre for foreign nationals and overrule earlier decision on deportation.

Mr.Mardonshoyev’s release from detention centre for foreign nationals was possible thanks to efforts of human rights defenders and his lawyer, who for several months had tried to persuade various courts that placing stateless persons into detention centers for foreign nationals had not been grounded, as had been stated by the ECtHR in the case of “Kim v. Russia”. Arkhangelsk regional court finally made a ruling, which was in line with earlier rulings made by the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation and ECtHR. However, the case of Mr.Mardonshoyev was yet another example, which demonstrated that in Russia any such case required particular resolution and additional efforts by the lawyers and human rights defenders because the courts had to be persuaded that there was the very possibility for release of a stateless person from detention. This problem can only be resolved by introduction of corresponding legal norms in the Russian legislation, which will protect stateless persons against arbitrary arrests in detention centers for foreign nationals for indefinite periods of time.