Ukrainian citizens threatened with deportation freed from detention centre

Saint Petersburg city court has overruled earlier decision by Kalininsky district court concerning deportation from Russia of two Ukrainian nationals originating from Gorlovka, where military conflict continues now.

Danila and Denis S., two brothers, fled from Gorlovka to Russia together with their mother over a year ago following the beginning of military conflict and destruction of their housing there. All three of them applied to the Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) for a temporary asylum status and obtained receipts of their applications. However, their application must not have been properly considered, because during each of their visits to FMS they were instructed to await telephone calls from the migration office. In June 2015 brothers S. were “detected” as “illegal immigrants” and were placed into a detention centre for foreign nationals. Kalininsky district court ruled that they should pay Rb5000 in penalties and be deported back to Gorlovka.

During the court procedures lawyer Olga Tseitlina referred to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture and stated that brothers S. faced immediate threat to their lives in case of deportation. She stressed that they have already started the procedure of getting temporary asylum in the Russian Federation.

Unfortunately this case is rather typical and representative: while the Russian authorities officially declare a policy aimed at protection of refugees and displaced persons from the Ukraine and pay lip service to softening of immigration restrictions for those who fled from war to Russia, in reality detention centres for foreign citizens hold dozens of Ukrainian citizens who are faced with the threat of deportation for violation of immigration regulations. Russian courts take into account neither the statement of Russian president Vladimir Putin that men of conscription age should be saved from mobilization into Ukrainian army (http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/47519) nor the recommendation by the FMS that until August 1, 2015 the period of temporary stay of Ukrainian citizens in Russia should have been prolonged without any red tape or obstacles (http://www.fms.gov.ru/press/news/news_detail.php?ID=12181).

The ruling by Saint Petersburg city court has saved brothers S. from deportation, but is nevertheless of a mitigated nature as the ruling on penalty payment for violation of immigration regulations is still in force. However, people fleeing from war should not be penalized or deported; they should be provided with means for survival during such a troubled period of their lives, as well as given material, social and legal aid.