Foreigner expelled from Russia without proper identification

On January 30, 2018, Leninsky district court of St. Petersburg ruled that A., a Georgian citizen, was guilty of violating Article 18.8 Section 3.1 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation for lack of identity documents and documents confirming the right to stay in the Russian Federation. At the time of the announcement of the court’s ruling, A.’s identity was established by the police only based on his own words, and his identity was listed in the case as that of “I., citizen of Azerbaijan”. No additional procedures required by the Russian legislation for identification of a person had been carried out by the law enforcement agencies. However, the court considered that there were no grounds for not trusting the documents, which had been provided by the Chief Department on Migration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, as well as the explanations of the accused himself. Thus, the court has de facto ordered a person, who was not properly identified, to pay a penalty and be expelled from Russia, with prior placement into a temporary detention centre for foreign nationals.

Later, the officers of the Federal bailiffs’ service of the Russian Federation, in cooperation with the Georgian embassy in Russia, have established identity of the accused and issued a certificate for his return to the country of his origin. Employees of the Federal bailiffs’ service also attempted to make a court appeal in order to amend the previous court order, but the their appeal was rejected by the court.

The ruling of the Leninsky district court was then appealed with the St. Petersburg city court by lawyer Olga Tseitlina in cooperation with the Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial”. The court agreed with the arguments of the lawyer that it was not possible to execute the earlier court ruling in relation to I., an Azerbaijani citizen, in view of the circumstances of establishing the identity of A. as a Georgian citizen, and the doubts about the guilt of I., which were ineradicable.

On December 18, 2018, the St. Petersburg city court overruled the earlier decision of the Leninsky district court of St. Petersburg and sent the case for a review. However, as it turned out later, a week before the session of the city court, A. had nevertheless been expelled from the country.

Thus, A. had been placed into the temporary detention centre for foreign nationals and had then been expelled by court order, which had been made concerning a completely different person, a citizen of another country, whose guilt had not been proven.

ADC “Memorial” has repeatedly raised the problem of erroneous and absurd court decisions, which are nevertheless being executed, despite the lack of corpus delicti or based on facts, which are insufficient for an indictment. According to the Russian law, the lack of information about identity of a person, who is being brought to administrative responsibility, is the basis for the termination of the administrative case. However, Leninsky district court of St. Petersburg did not investigate the circumstances of the case and has nevertheless made an unlawful decision.