Ukrainian citizens released from the Center for the Temporary Detention of Foreign Nationals in Saint Petersburg

On June 17, 2022, the Frunzensky District Court of Saint Petersburg ruled to release S., a native of the Donetsk region of Ukraine, and B., a representative of the Roma community from the Transcarpathian region, who had been in the Center for the Temporary Detention of Foreign Nationals in Krasnoe Selo for more than six months “in order to ensure expulsion”.

S. was born in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, but did not have Ukrainian citizenship. In December 2021, he was found guilty of evading an unassisted exit from the Russian Federation — that is, a previously appointed expulsion, which was obviously impossible for a stateless person even before Russia’s war against Ukraine. The court imposed a fine of 3,000 rubles on him and forced deportation with preliminary imprisonment in the Center for the Temporary Detention of Foreign Nationals (CTDFN). B. in November 2021 was found guilty of exceeding the term of stay in the Russian Federation. The court imposed a fine of 5000 roubles and expulsion.

Defending S. and B. the lawyer pointed out the actual impossibility of expulsion: it is impossible to establish that S. and B. hold Ukrainian citizenship (consular offices do not function), just as the procedure itself is impossible due to hostilities, closed borders, lack of transport links. In addition, while in the CTDFN, S. and B. submitted applications for temporary asylum, which were pending at the time of the proceedings. To confirm the place of birth of S., the court communicated with the “Ministry of Justice” of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (previously in such cases, the Ukrainian authorities did not issue information about the birth of stateless people – immigrants from uncontrolled territories).

Both applicants were released from the CTDFN – the judge referred to the decision of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation (2017), which recognized the detention of stateless persons in the CTDFN as illegal in case of impossibility of expulsion (the so-called Mskhiladze mechanism). Forced expulsion was canceled, administrative fines remained in force.