Ukrainian refugees in Russian Federation

We publish our report to PACE on the situation of refugees from the east of Ukraine.

Introduction

It is the first time when the flow of refugees has been welcomed with compassion by the Russian population and with the support of the government. You can say that assistance to UR has united Russians, including those who have been supporting the annexation of Crimea and the aggression in Eastern Ukraine. People have been easily donating money and even accommodating UR in their homes. As time passed, both people and authorities have become less enthusiastic.

Numbers

To our knowledge, there are no more than aproximately 150, 000 – 170, 000 Ukrainian refugess in Russian Federation, which is significantly lower than what has been officially reported by Federal migration service and rotated in the media, which is around 800, 000 people or even a million.

According to FMS data up to 10 September 2014, there are about 60, 000 refugees situated in camps, 5, 500 have applied for refugee status (115 acknowledged as refugees) and 150, 000 applied for temporary asylum (110 000 individuals have been given TA). It’s assumed that the rest of Urkainians have been coming to Russia for jobs on a regular basis and prefer the other path of legalization in Russian Federation.

Our statement is based on the quantity of applications to offices of legal network «Migration and Law, » which exists in 45 regions of Russia, and on the quantity of applicants on the Russian-Ukrainian border. Nevertheless, this expertise is confirmed by the implication of paragraph №2 of Government Resolution No. 691 from 22 July 2014—designating the distribution of refugees from Ukraine to the regions of Russia «on the assumption of 150, 000 individuals in 2014.»

imageAsylum:

When applying for asylum, the refugees are expected to have difficulties. At the very beginning, Ukrainian refugees were undergoining the regular process of claiming refuge in the specially created FMS receptions. Later, they have been scheduled appointments to claim asylum for many months in advance (up to May 2015). Since August 2014, when people would return for scheduled interviews, they have been told that the quota for refugees in Moscow has vanished, and they are offered to go to distant regions of Russia. Moreover in Moscow, the surrounding Moscow region, Saint-Pet, Rostov region, Crimea and Sevastopol, there are no receptions for Ukrainian refugees according the same No. 691 Resolution.

This is obviously unlawful from the perspective of the federal «Law on refugees» and contradicts the Geneva Convention of Refugees. There is a possibility to distribute those who need governmental assistance among the different regions, but there can be no quotas for the immediate asylum-seekers.

We have Ukrainian applicants who have been offered well-paid jobs in Moscow, and some of them have relatives who have extended invitations to let them stay in their homes. What is the point to send a PR-manager or an interpreter to a distant countryside—the regions «destined» for settlement—where they never find employment or accomodation?

Due to the reasons mentioned, people are applying to CAC to buy tickets home. There are cases where applicants are rejected by FMS precisly because of them not coming from either the Donetsk or Luhansk regions.

Policy matters:

This refugee flow is unique in terms of having good potential for integration—we speak the same language, thus there are no obstacles for people to easily settle. So, the government has made some postive steps towards the incoming Ukrainians, such as the adoption of Resolution No. 690 from 22 July 2014, a simplified procedure to grant temporary asylum for Ukrainians (shortened from 3 months to 3 days with an obligatory medical exam).

Also, the adoption of Resolution No. 866 from 2 September 2014 to issue work permits without quotas for Ukrainians arriving in «urgent and mass circumstances.»This is what Svetlana Gannushkina as a member of Migration policy agency has been insisting on from the very beginning. Yet, there is no clear understanding on how this resolution will apply in reality – to all the Ukrainians or to an unclear category as arriving in «urgent and mass circumstances.». But this could be a useful measure, resolving many problems for individuals.

As for the practical application of the mentioned resolution, the remaining difficulties refugees are still facing must be spotted:
– A 3-day term is a positive change, but the applicant can’t get the access to the procedure of determination of status, thus it’s quite a few months plus 3 days in average
– We have been recieving complaints from Ukrainian refugees who are being sent, for their obligatory medical examiniation, to doctors who require payment for each visit.
– People are granted asylum, but not all of them are issued the actual ID that verifies their legal status, making them vulnerable for law enforcment and creating obstacles for children to access schools and treatment in hospitals. For instance, in 2014, 110, 000 people are granted temporary asylum and only 64, 000 are issued IDs.
– No possibility to gain the legal status upon arriving to the ceratin region (for instance Moscow, Sait-Pet and etc.)
– Rejections from temporary asylum, deportations

In some cases, the NGO workers can successfully assist Ukrainian refugees probably because of authorities that are in the mood to help them, although there is no solution on the universal level which is linked to state of governmental institutions in general.

Another positive change is that the Federal Migration Service has initiated a cooperation with civil society and turned its request to encourage Ukrainians to become compatriots in the same name of a governmental program.

However, article 5 paragraph 7 of the «Law on citizenship» contains strict requirments for these program participants to have permament residence registation as a condition to acquire citizenship. People, themselves, cannot make this registration as they do not posses any real estate (flats, houses) in Russia, nor could NGOs really do something at this point. If this requirement was to be removed or replaced by the temporary residence registration, the governmental program for compatriots would become a good durable solution for many who are intending to stay in Russia for good.

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