Release of Ukrainians from Centres for the Temporary Detention of Foreign Nationals (CTDFN) requires significant efforts from lawyers

On February 20, 2023, the Moskovsky District Court of St. Petersburg ruled to release a native of Ukraine, Oksana Kukharchuk, who remained in a CTDFN “in order to ensure expulsion” for a year and three months, since December 22, 2021. We wrote about her story a month ago. It took several court hearings in different instances to release her.

On December 22, 2021, by a decision of the Moscow District Court of St. Petersburg, Oksana Kukharchuk, a native of Ukraine, was found guilty of violating migration laws for not having documents confirming the right to stay on the territory of the Russian Federation. While working in Russia, she lost her documents, but could not get a temporary identity card in time and leave for her homeland due to closed borders and lack of transport links. Two months after her restraint, Russia unleashed a full-scale war in Ukraine, and all consular offices of Ukraine in Russia were closed. It became impossible for Kukharchuk to return home, and her further detention in the CTDFN ceased to have a legitimate purpose and lost its meaning. These arguments were used by the lawyer when challenging the decision on expulsion. However, all of them were ignored by the court, and Kukharchuk was denied release.

The St. Petersburg City Court overturned the earlier decision and sent the case back for a new trial. On February 13, 2023, Kukharchuk’s case was again submitted to the Moskovsky District Court of St. Petersburg, the same one that ordered her expulsion. When considering the case, the court agreed that due to the complete absence of diplomatic ties with Ukraine, as well as any responses from the Consulate General of Ukraine in St. Petersburg to requests for documentation of Kukharchuk, the execution of the court order on expulsion became impossible, respectively, the further detention of Kukharchuk in the Centre has no legitimate purpose. On the basis of these findings, on February 20, 2023, the court decided to stop the execution of its own decision to deport Kukharchuk from the Russian Federation and place her in the Centre for the Temporary Detention of Foreign Nationals. Immediately after the announcement of the decision, Oksana Kukharchuk was released.