US accepts refugees from Russia

Does Russia need young and energetic citizens? Sad, but usual story

On December 15th, 2011 a family of stateless people, who arrived ino Russia from Georgia and were not able to receive citizenship for more than 20 years, has departed to California.

In November 1992, Tamara Khasmamedova with two minor children, Billura and Shakhmardan, arrived in Saint Petersburg from Georgia. Her husband and brother lived in this city. The family was registered in brother’s flat and stayed with him in the town of Pushkin.

In August 2000, the brother sold his flat and bought a flat in St Petersburg, Khasmamedova and her minor children became unregistered. The Federal Migration Service in the Nevsky district of St Petersburg declined to register them in a new own flat as their USSR passports issued in Georgia in 1994 were invalid.

The declination to register was absolutely illegal as, according to the law, until December 31st, 2000 all people who did not have any citizenship of the countries from the former USSR had a status “citizen of the former USSR” and had all rights and responsibilities of Russian citizens (cf. Decision by the ECHR on the case Tatishvili v. Russia from 22.02.2007, No. 1509/02).

Lacking registration and alternative housing, the family kept living in brother’s property. They confirmed the fact of living in Russia from November 1992 by the court and received the documents confirming they were not citizens of Georgia. All applications of documents for permission to temporal residence and citizenship for the children were declined, with a refer to that “all comers from Georgia have to come back to Georgia”.

In November 2009, the prosecutor of the Nevsky district of St Petersburg asked the court to evict the family of Tamara Khasmamedova from her brother’s property. The court confirmed the request, and the family with minor children was sent out to streets without any alternative housing. Khasmamedova was regularly detained by the police and offended. They tried to deport her or to put her in a detention centre. She spent many nights in police stations, usually saved by her lawyer. The children had to hide, live at their classmates’, in school, at a railway station but nevertheless successfully finished school and received their diplomas.

Taking into account poor situation of the family and after exhausting all appealing procedures in the country, the lawyer Olga Tseitlina applied the documents for resettlement of the family into the USA embassy.

Although there is no special resettlement programme for stateless people, the workers of the USA embassy were more human: they took into consideration that these people failed to get legalised in the country due to the illegal declinations of the officers and institutions and were unable to receive any protection in the country. The USA accepted this family as refugees. Now these people who suffered so much from the injustice of Russian officers, have a right to live on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, in the city of San Diego, state California.

But it was not the end of the story. Without Russian documents the Khasmamedovs could not leave the country, although had a right to enter the United States. But this time the Federal Migration Service refused to deport them and threathened to put them into detention centre for the people who violated migration rules. It seemed obvious to let people leave under the documents issued by the International Red Cross. But the authorities decided to makemore troublesfor these people.

Only due to the lawyer’s work and support of the International Migration Organisation, the Committee Civil Assistance and ADC Memorial, Tamara Hasmamedova’s family receieved the court’s decision on deportation aloowing them to leave Russia on their own.

After the fictious procedure of deportation, the Hasmamedovs finally left Russia – the country that could be their second homeland but decided to be stepmother.

We hope that their life on the Pacific coast in California will be happy and calm. On the other hand, it is a pity that Russia lost a family of educated young people who could work for its benefit.

Olga Tseitlina


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