Syrian Refugees in Russia Trapped in Legal Limbo

The Kremlin is trying desperately to end the war in Syria, but it wants nothing to do with displaced Syrians at home.

NOGINSK — In a gray industrial city an hour outside of Moscow, Safa sits in front of a room full of low desks and child-size chairs. On the walls around her, posters of the Arabic alphabet hang next to pictures of cartoon animals with their names written in Russian.

‘AIDS Boy,’ ‘Dog,’ And ‘Disgrace To Society’: How Russia Greets Gay Men Seeking Asylum

In mid-July, a gay, HIV-positive foreigner arrived at an immigration office in Moscow seeking asylum in Russia. Unlike in his native Uzbekistan, where sex between men is punishable by up to three years in prison, Russia has not criminalized homosexual relations.

But as he and his lawyer discussed his case with an immigration officer, their interlocutor made clear she had no sympathy for people like him.

“If it were up to me, they would all be put up against a wall,” the officer with the Moscow branch of the Russian Interior Ministry’s Main Directorate of Migration Affairs said, according to audio of the conversation obtained by RFE/RL. At one point in the conversation, the officer, who said she herself hailed from the applicant’s Central Asian homeland, switched to the man’s native language to express her disapproval of the man’s sexual orientation.

“Cursed be your father.

More Than 100 Fan ID Holders Are Seeking Asylum in Russia, Aid Group Says

Scores of asylum seekers who entered Russia with World Cup fan identity documents are seeking legal help in Moscow, in an attempt to escape war, political repression and homophobia, a refugee assistance group has said.

Russia introduced visa-free travel for holders of Fan IDs during the football tournament this summer, later extending the measure until the end of 2018 on President Vladimir Putin’s orders. During the tournament, dozens of Fan ID holders reportedly tried to enter Europe illegally using Fan IDs.

Russia: Xenophobia and vulnerability of migrants from Central Asia

The continuous migration to Russia from Central Asia proves the mutual interdependence between the Russian labour market and migrant workers from former Soviet Union Republics due to the agreement between the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries on free movement. Recent migration levels in 2012-2016 replenished the loss of the Russian working age population (16-54 years old for female, 16-59 years old for male), which is about 15% annually and fell to 83.7 million people in 2016, while the net migration figure from other CIS countries to Russia in 2016 was 235,300 compared with 268,400 in 2012, with 8.2 million migrants at the end of 2016 in total for the period[1].

How a transgender Chechen escaped Russia and found asylum in the United States

CHICAGO — When Leyla arrived in the United States after being smuggled over the Mexican border, she showed her passport to the Border Patrol officers who found her. 

Then she said one of the few words she knew in English: “Asylum.”

The border guards may not have known it at the time, but the passport wasn’t just a travel document; it was stark evidence that Leyla needed refuge. It showed that she was born in the Russian republic of Chechnya — and that she was born and raised as a man.

How Russia Makes—and Humiliates—Refugees

Civil Assistance is the only legal aid organization helping tens of thousands of refugees fleeing war zones where Russia is fighting.

Salekh carried a slender black leather briefcase and his long, skinny fingers were running nervously all over it, drumming as if on piano keys. Several times during the interview he unzipped the folder to pull out two envelopes, the letters from the court rejecting his petition to stay in Russia.

‘The Problem of Mass Migration Must Be solved, Not Resisted’

Anastasia Denisova, an alumna of the MA in ‘Understanding and Securing Human Rights’ (2015-2016), School of Advanced Study, University of London interviewed Svetlana Gannushkina, the Director of ‘Civic Assistance’ NGO (Moscow) and a 2016 laureate of the prestigious Right Livelihood Award for ‘her decades-long commitment to promoting human rights and justice for refugees and forced migrants, and tolerance among different ethnic groups’.

Dear Ms Gannushkina, congratulations with receiving the award that is more well-known as an Alternative Peace Nobel Prize! It is indeed well-deserved.

Refugees Trapped in Russian Airport Win Compensation Payout

Russia has been ordered to pay more than 80,000 euros ($86,870) to four men forced to live in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport while applying for asylum.

Three of the men, from Iraq, Palestine and Syria, were forced to wait in the airport for more than five months after being turned away at the Russian border. The fourth man, a Somalian national, lived in the transit zone for almost two years before giving up on his asylum application.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that Russia had deprived the men of their liberty and subjected them to “inhumane treatment.”

The men survived thanks to weekly deliveries of food and toiletries by Russia’s UN Refugee Committee, but were not given access to basic facilities such as showers, the ECtHR found.

Novaya Gazeta Journalist Threatened With Expulsion To Uzbekistan

In the morning of March 17 Moscow police detained uzbek journalist Khudoberdi Nurmatov. He has been working as a correspondent with the Novaya Gazeta, and is now threatened with extradition to Uzbekistan, where he could be tortured.

In journalism, Nurmatov is also known as pseudonym Ali Feruz.  The chief of the Novaya Gazeta investigatory department, Olga Bobrova, writes, “Khudoberdi is Ali’s name by passport but it’s the name which makes one’s life in Moscow difficult. Therefore, he has been working under pseudonym in journalism”.

Migrants Still Try To Make It From Russia To Norway

Two groups of people aimed for Scandinavia, but were stopped by the FSB.

Two Iranian citizens were on 26th February detained in Nikel, the Russian border town, ahead of an alleged illegal border-crossing to Norway. According to Interfax, the migrants had with them snowshoes, a tent, warm clothes and other items for harsh winter survival. The Iranians were forced by the FSB to buy air tickets back to Moscow and then return to Iran, the news agency writes.

Russian Court Saves North Korean Defector From Deportation

A court in Russia’s Leningrad region dismissed the case against Choi Myung-bok, a North Korean defector set to be deported for violating migration laws, the Memorial human rights group reported Monday. Choi no longer faces deportation to North Korea, where he would most likely be executed for fleeing the labor camp he was sent to. He plans to apply for official refugee status once again.

Choi, 54, lives in a small town in the Leningrad region with his Russian partner and their two children. In 1999, North Korean authorities sent him to a labor camp in the Russian Far Eastern Amur region, which he fled in 2002.