In June 2020, Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” secured release from temporary detention centre for foreign nationals of two natives of Ukraine, who for various reasons could not be expelled from the Russian Federation. Unfortunately, people like them continue to be deprived of liberty by court orders, although their placement in temporary detention centres for foreign nationals does not pursue any legal and achievable goal.
B., a native of the Donetsk region, had left Ukraine in 2016 because of the outbreak of armed conflict in the Donbass region. He lost his passport in Russia and could not return back. In 2017 he spent five months in a temporary detention centre for foreign nationals and was then released from there by decision of the deputy chairman of the St. Petersburg city court, which said, with reference to Article 3 of the UN Convention against torture, that “in case of B.’s expulsion (a native of Donetsk region) real threat to his life and health is recognized as reasonable … Given these circumstances, B.’s forcible expulsion from the territory of the Russian Federation is impossible, and his detention in the temporary centre for foreign nationals becomes indefinite”.
Despite the court ruling and objective reasons for the absence of opportunities for B.’s return to Ukraine (besides that the Consulate General of Ukraine refused to issue B. identity certificate for his return to his native country), in August 2019, B. was again detained, fined for violation of the terms of stay in the Russian Federation and placed in the detention centre for foreign nationals before expulsion from Russia. At the same time, Frunzensky district court of St. Petersburg had not indicated the motives and terms for depriving him of freedom, as well as the type of expulsion from the country. The court’s decision was contrary to an earlier decision of the Russian Constitutional Court dated May 23, 2017 in the case of N.G. Mskhiladze, which had created a legal mechanism for the release of stateless persons from temporary detention centres for foreign nationals. The court ruling in the case of B. also violated the legal provisions established by Articles 19, 15 (part 4), 17 (part 1) and 38 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation and Articles 3 and 5 (paragraph 1 “f”) of the European Convention on human rights. The struggle for liberation of B. from detention took a long time: in November 2019, the Third court of cassation has left the expulsion order without changes; following that a legal complaint was presented to Frunzensky district court St. Petersburg, whose decision on June 9, 2020 finally ruled to cancel orders on B.’s deportation and detention in the temporary centre for foreign nationals. Following 10 months of legal battles B. was finally released.
On June 10, 2020 a related ruling was made by Dzerzhinsky district court of St. Petersburg in the case of M., a native of the Sumy region of Ukraine, who didn’t have an identity card. On June 7, 2019, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation had made a decision concerning undesirability of his stay in the Russian Federation based on his criminal records. On April 23, 2020 M. was placed in a special detention centre of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for a period of not more than 60 days for the purpose of further deportation based on the ruling of Dzerzhinsky district court St. Petersburg, despite the fact that M. lacked his passport and the Consulate General of Ukraine in St. Petersburg at the request of the Chief Directorate of Ministry of Internal Affairs for St. Petersburg and Leningrad region had indicated that it did not have evidence of M.’s Ukrainian citizenship, therefore claiming that providing M. with an identity certificate for his return home had not been possible. Besides, the borders of Russia were closed due to the coronavirus pandemia. Thus, M.’s placement and further detention in the special detention centre has lost its legally achievable goal. In a move to defend M.’s legal rights lawyer Olga Tseytlina with the support of Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” appealed to Dzerzhinsky district court with a legal complaint, in which she had pointed out the impossibility of deporting M. from Russia given the refusal of Ukraine to recognize him as its citizen and the fact that international borders had been closed for the time being. Besides that, the absence of specific release date for the imprisonment of M. in the court order violated his right to freedom and did not comply with Article 22 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation and Article 5 (paragraph 1 “f”) of the European Convention on human rights. The court agreed that M.’s further detention in a special detention centre was wrong and the execution of the court’s decision on deportation was thus cancelled.