St. Petersburg city court lifted ban on the entry to Russia of a Tajik citizen

Rustamjon S., a citizen of Tajikistan, was banned from entering the Russian Federation at the end of 2017 for the reason of a minor violation of traffic rules. This decision of the Russian immigration authorities became almost a disaster for his family: Rustamjon is married to a Russian citizen, who belongs to the Roma minority and does not have even basic education due to difficult life circumstances, so Rustamjon was and still is the sole provider for the family. In addition to this, he has other ties with Russia: back in Tajikistan, he graduated from a Russian school, his father is a native of the Chechen Republic, and his sister is a citizen of the Russian Federation.

In 2019, lawyer Olga Tseytlina, with the support of the Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial”, has already managed to get a positive ruling in the case of Rustamjon S. in the Smolny district court of St. Petersburg. When making a decision to satisfy the defendant’s claim, the court referred to the clarifications made by the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, which recommended the respected bodies of authority avoid formal approach when considering cases related to bans on entry into the Russian Federation for foreign citizens. In its decision, the court cited the position of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), according to which the expulsion of a person from a country where close members of his family lived violated the right to respect for family life guaranteed by the International Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Despite the court’s findings concerning the existing strong family links and the interests of children, and the support provided by the positions of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation and the ECtHR, this decision of the Smolny district court was appealed against in a higher court by the Migration Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for St. Petersburg and Leningrad region. It should be noted that the Russian migration authorities appeal all such positive court decisions without exception, which creates an additional burden on the courts and puts family members in an undecided situation, while the claimants cannot officially work and get legal status until the court rulings come into legal force.

On March 10, 2020 representatives of the Main Department of Internal Affairs claimed in the St. Petersburg city court that S. Rustamjon had maliciously violated immigration regulations, because he had lived without proper registration for many years. The lawyer retorted to this that her defendant couldn’t legalize himself precisely because of the ban on entry, nor could he leave the country, while leaving his family for 5 years without a livelihood and his support. The complaint of the Chief Department of Internal Affairs was rejected by the city court, and the decision of the Smolny district court of St. Petersburg to lift the ban on entry came into force.

Despite the cancellation of the earlier repressive court decision, the family still fears that if they leave the country for the purpose of subsequent entry into the Russian Federation, the immigration authorities may again ban Rustamjon S. from entering, so the lawyer will appeal to the Chief Department of Internal Affairs with a request to allow him to apply for a temporary residence permit without leaving Russia.

The right to respect for private and family life is one of the most important and universally recognized human rights. It implies that no one, including the state, can intervene in private life and impede the free existence of the family without special grounds for this. Bias against immigrants from Tajikistan is also unacceptable.