The Federal State Statistics Service has published current data on the number of recognized refugees, holders of temporary asylum and forced migrant status in Russia. The numbers are even sadder than last year.
In 2020 the Russian Migration Service recognized as refugees only 28 people. That is only slightly more than in 2019 (23 people). At the same time, the total number of refugees with legal status has decreased by 32 people over the year. In total, 445 persons have a certificate of refugee status in Russia (data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on January 1, 2021).
In addition, over the course of 2020 the number of holders of temporary asylum — a humanitarian status valid for up to one year with a very complicated extension process — was halved. This status is currently held by 19 817 although only a year ago there were nearly 42 thousand holders. Such a drastic reduction is due mostly to the decrease of Ukrainian citizens with certificates of temporary asylum. Possibly, most of them have become citizens of the Russian Federation: during the year of 2020 a Russian passport was obtained by 409 549 Ukrainian citizens.
On the whole, 656 347 persons received Russian citizenship in 2020. This is a record number for the last five years at least. In comparison, by the end of 2019, 497 817 foreigners and stateless persons had become Russian citizens while during the years 2016-2018 the number of people obtaining Russian passports did not exceed 300 thousand a year. This increase is most likely due to the fact that the simplified procedure for issuing passports to citizens of Ukraine from Donetsk and Luhansk regions has begun to work in full force.
If we count the holders of temporary asylum from all the other countries, excluding Ukraine, then only 1 472 people remain. Over the course of the year, this number has also fallen, by 200 persons. This is in large part due to the decrease in certificates held by Syrians: from 591 to 359 (as of January 1, 2021). That’s the number of refugees from Syria who have temporary asylum for another year. This is another anti-record — the lowest number since 2012.
Distribution of refugees and temporary asylum holders by country of previous residence (data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs)
|Refugees||Temporary asylum holders|
|Persons on January 1, 2021||Persons on January 1, 2020||Persons on January 1, 2021||Persons on January 1, 2020|
|Total||455||487||19 817||41 946|
|Ukraine||83||119||18 345||40 274|
What do these numbers tell us? They once again confirm that the institute of asylum in Russia is degrading and working selectively, only when political will is summoned. Real potential to obtain asylum and in the future permanent legal status is only available to citizens of Ukraine, for refugees from other countries the system simply does not work.
In 2020, the number of those with forced migrant status was also more than halved — from 5 323 to 2 512 persons. The table below illustrates that the government nearly completely refuses to support its citizens that have been displaced from their home. They are stripped of their status of forced migrants despite the fact that the obligations of the state towards them have not been fulfilled. Along with their status, one of the most vulnerable groups in Russia is also stripped of all hope to be provided with housing.
Distribution of forced migrants by country of previous residence (data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs)
|Persons on January 1, 2021||Persons on January 1, 2020|