In February 2017 Mrs. N. was found guilty of violating the Russian migration regulations and was sentenced to a fine and administrative expulsion to Turkmenistan, whose citizenship it supposedly had according to the court. In October 2017 the embassy of Turkmenistan in Russia responded that there was no information about N.’s citizenship of Turkmenistan. The embassy also refused to issue a certificate of return to her name, without which it was impossible to expel her from Russia. Later the lawyer found that the ruling for expulsion from Russia was in fact made concerning a different person and that N. indeed was a citizen of the Russian Federation, a native of the Republic of Bashkortostan, which was confirmed by a copy of her passport and other documents.
For almost a year N. was imprisoned in a temporary detention centre for foreign nationals and it was only on January 25, 2018 that St. Petersburg city court, after considering the legal appeal made by lawyer Olga Tseitlina, who cooperated with Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial”, ruled to release N. from the detention centre. However, despite the confirmation of the citizenship of the Russian Federation and the proof of erroneous decision by the court of first instance, the expulsion has not been completely overruled, but only changed to an “independent controlled departure” from the Russian Federation.
Despite the apparent absence of the elements of the administrative offense, as well as the protest made by the deputy prosecutor of St. Petersburg on the expulsion ruling, the city court still issued an absurd decision, according to which a Russian citizen was obliged to leave the country, being charged with violation of Article 18.8 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences (“Violation of the rules of entry into the Russian Federation or the regime of residence in the Russian Federation by foreign citizens or stateless persons”). Finally N. was released, but the court’s decision on her “independent departure”, which has no legitimate and achievable goal, was not abolished.
ADC “Memorial” has repeatedly raised the problem of illegitimate imprisonment in temporary detention centres for foreign nationals of stateless people, who could not be expelled anywhere. And it is certainly impossible to expel a Russian citizen from the country, but Russian courts do not want to take into account the personal circumstances of particular individuals and thus sometimes make absurd decisions.