Citizens of Turkmenistan and other countries have been held in a migration detention center outside of Moscow for over two years now

After visiting the Sakharovo Foreign National Detention Center for Moscow, head of the Moscow Society of Turkmen Culture Gulnabad Tekayeva announced on May 26 that Turkmen citizens who cannot return home have been held there for over two years. The detention conditions in this center are no different from prison conditions: This is a closed institution where people cannot move around freely, cannot use their cell phones more than three times a day, and can only spend two hours in the open air a day.

The migrants were arrested for overstaying their visas in Russia, even though they were unable to leave on time because of the COVID-19 pandemic, since transport links between Russia and Turkmenistan were severed and the Turkmen government did not arrange evacuation flights for its citizens.

Turkmen citizens are not the only ones with this problem: Russian courts are issuing deportation orders they know cannot be enforced in contravention of Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the right to respect for personal and family life). When these orders are appealed, they are not canceled and migrants are not released from detention. Many foreign nationals have spent more than two years there, which is longer than the sentence for several crimes. Meanwhile, confinement in a foreign national detention centers is not technically considered a sentence, but an “interim measure” to deport the foreign national.