Donbass Refugees Expelled from Russia

Courts are ruling for expulsion subject to the Minsk agreements that allegedly indicate the stabilization of the situation in the region.

There has been an increase in the number of Ukrainian nationals placed in Centers for Temporary Detention of Foreign Nationals (CTDFN) who recur to the Civic Assistance Committee for help. They are placed in those centers on the grounds of alleged violation of the rules of stay in Russia (Article 18.8 of the Code of Administrative offences of the Russian Federation), regardless of the fact that the Ukrainians from Donbass are seeking asylum in Russia or even already hold it. Everyone is getting expelled: those who have served in the army and those who have not, those who have lost their Ukrainian passport in Russia, those who have no proper residency registration and even those who are as clean as a whistle. Many Ukrainians from Donbass are sent to Kyiv from Russian CTDFNs. Then they are going missing. Human rights defenders claim that those who have been in the militia are facing jail, and, according to the inmates, tortures.

Oleg (the name has been changed), a Ukrainian national, moved to Russia back in 2003. Last time he was at home was in 2013. He lost his Ukrainian passport some years ago. However, as he is from the infamous city of Pervomaisk, Luhansk oblast, he decided not to contact the embassy: “No one wants to help us there, we are just getting sent to Kyiv right away and that’s it. They couldn’t care less.”.

He was detained in Moscow oblast on 14 January this year. He was immediately brought before the court where he was tried together with 7 Tajikistan nationals at once. They were all sentenced to the same punishment: a fine and compulsory expulsion from Russia. The court ruling read: “In assigning the following punishment, the court is taking into account that on 12 February 2015 an agreement was reached in Minsk between the President of the Russian Federation, the President of Ukraine, the President of the French Republic and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, passing the Package of measures for enforcement of the Minsk Protocol on the settlement of the situation in Ukraine, that resulted in ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy armament, exchange of captives. At the present moment, subject to the Decree of the President of Ukraine N 254/2016 of 6 May 2015, demobilization of the military was announced for May-July 2015. This means that the state of emergency that took place in Ukraine in the past has changed.”. Illarion Vasiliyev, a lawyer affiliated with the Civic Assistance Committee, is going to appeal this decision.

According to Oleg, there are 9 people holding Luhansk People’s Republic passports with him in the CTDFN, as well as Ukrainians who have participated in the hostilities. They are all getting deported too: “One guy here, he actually has temporary asylum [in Russia]. But he was detained by police, they tore his temporary asylum certificate, brought him before the court and now they put him in the CTDFN.  Even despite the fact that one patriotic organization that helped him provided evidence of his temporary asylum”.”

Illarion Vasiliyev has already contacted this person and filed a request with the migration authority for Novosibirsk oblast to provide information on the temporary asylum. The lawyer is going to appeal the decision in a court of supervision.

Photo: Victor Nigmatulin, Kemerovo oblast CTDFN

Translated by Daria Gorbacheva