In mid-May, following a year-long detention in the Centre for temporary detention of foreign nationals, a stateless person born in Georgia, Mr.P., was freed from arrest. His lawyer had made an appeal to the Leningrad regional court against an earlier ruling of Gatchina city court, which had ruled P. guilty of violation of Article 18.8 Section 3 of the Code of administrative violations (court ruling dated May 13, 2014). The lawyer demanded to annul additional penalty (administrative deportation from the Russian Federation) and to free P. from the Centre for temporary detention of foreign nationals, which is supervised by the directorate of the Federal Migration Service (FMS) of Russia for Saint Petersburg and Leningrad region.
The attorney’s arguments in support of appeal included reference to the information, which law enforcement agencies already had, that P. was a stateless person and not a citizen of Georgia and thus the court ruling on his deportation could not be implemented. Besides that P. had been earlier handed a suspended sentence of 1,5 years of imprisonment for a criminal offence with a probation period of 2 years, which has not yet expired.
The judge of Leningrad regional court ruled that the earlier ruling of Gatchina district court which had required administrative deportation from Russia should be annulled and P. should be freed from the Centre for temporary detention of foreign nationals. This ruling was based on the priority of penalty imposed for criminal offense compared to other penalties imposed by the state.
The situation of P. is rather typical: a stateless person, who had lived in Russia for the last 15 years, found himself in a legal vacuum. As a person with no citizenship and documents, he had received maximal term for a criminal offense, but because he is a stateless person, he could also be penalized for violation of immigration regulations an unlimited number of times and could be sentenced to deportation although he cannot be legally deported. As a result of that a stateless person can be detained for an indefinite period of time because of the absence of proper documents, which one cannot obtain however hard one tries.
The documents considered by the court also included a statement that in accordance with the information contained in “Migrant-1” database, P. had been considered a stateless person born in Georgia. This means that FMS had been aware already a year ago, when the ruling on deportation had been made, that P. was a stateless person, who couldn’t be deported, but in spite of recommendations issued by the European Court for Human Rights (ECtHR), he nevertheless was placed into the Centre for temporary detention of foreign nationals for de facto an indefinite period of time.