Christian Follower from Central African Republic Asked to Leave Russia

Kevin Kangi, who is being prosecuted on religious and political grounds back home, could be separated from his family in Russian Federation.

“Kangi Kevin Frumens did not provide strong arguments proving that his safety concerns are more substantial than those of other citizens of the Central African Republic”. Moscow’s Basmanny Court presented this as the basis for denying temporary asylum to Kevin Kangi who fled Central African Republic back in 2013 due to political prosecution and who is living now in Moscow with his wife, Russian citizen, and their daughter.

Kevin’s father and brother were murdered on political grounds and still, within 4 years Kevin didn’t manage to convince local authorities that it would be too dangerous for him to go back home and how important it is to keep his family here. The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees says that the refugee status can be obtained by people who are afraid to go home “for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” but Russian migration services need more than that. In Russia you need to prove that you are at risk in your home country and that this risk is more essential than other people’s risk.

Kevin Kangi and Filip Shishov, lawyer of The Migration and Law Network of the Memorial Centre

Murdered relatives are not enough

Kevin Kangi is a Christian, in Central African Republic he was persecuted by Muslim rebels. In 2013 “Séléka”, an alliance of Muslim rebel formations, overthrew the Republic’s Christian president Francois Bozizé and raised their own leader Michel Djotodia to power via coup. The rebels began robbing and killing Christians who created militia troops for protection.

Kangi presented a translation of the article from “Le Démocrate” dated April 3rd, 2013. An extract from the article says: “…Parents of Frumens Kangi are worried about their son who left his home and didn’t give them his new address. The facts are that the young man happened to be to his cost one of the activists of KNK, Bozizé’s party tried to stand up to Michel Djotodia’s rebels. These days Frumens Kangi is suspected of illegal possession of weapons… After a search by “Seleka” soldiers the young man’s house fell into ruins”.

Kevin’s membership in KNK (Kwa Na Kwa – “Work, only Work”) is proved by candidate’s ID: the documents says that Kangi is KNK’s Deputy Federal Chairman for Youth Affairs. He is sure that his he going back home will mean political and religious prosecution and possibly death.

“In 2013 Muslims came to Kevin’s work and robbed him. He decided to flee when rebels broke into his house and killed his brother who they probably mistook for Kevin. The “Le Démocrate” article told this story but there is no official proof of this”, says Kangi’s wife Anait Mkrtchyan.

Not the most humane court in the world

According to the Russian Federal law on Refugees, temporary asylum can be granted to persons who “have no grounds for the recognition as refugees due to the circumstances, provided for by the Federal Law, but cannot be deported beyond the territory of the Russian Federation from humane motives”.  The Law does not specify what “humane motives” are but the possibility of the family’s provider, father and husband of Russian citizens being with his family could as well fall under the definition of “humane motive”.

Whereas the refugee status is given to persons based on the fear of becoming a victim of persecution by reason of “race, religion, citizenship, national or social identity or political convention”. Having been denied the refugee status on the ground of persecution in 2016 (the fight for the status lasted two years) Kevin tried to turn to humanism and at least get temporary asylum.

Still the wordings of the court’s denials in 2016 and 2017 were the same – “insufficient proof”. Strong arguments and testifier’s statement, which rarely happens during such proceedings, didn’t help either. Kangi received support from Bissat Giscard Arcadius, CAR Embassy employee in Moscow. He confirmed he had known Kevin since 2010 (being in the same political party) and Kangi was in fact in grave danger back home. This statement from a person with diplomatic immunity received the following description in the court’s finding: “the court trusts the plaintiff’s testimony but points out that presented statement does not prove the plaintiff’s persecution on political grounds”.

Without the refugee status or temporary asylum Kevin Kangi cannot work on the territory of the Russian Federation. He is helping his wife raise their daughter now. Anait says that her husband knows Russian well now and even speaks Russian instead of native French with little Mirabelle. If he has to leave the country his family won’t be able to follow him. Anait has a 14-year old daughter from her first marriage. The girl grew up in Russia, her father is here. It’s not easy to decide which one of her daughters will be deprived of her father.

In March 2017 the UN published the World Happiness Report which named the most unfortunate countries. The assessment was based on criteria of GDP level, social support for citizens, life longevity, freedom and others. Central African Republic turned out to be among the unhappiest countries together with Syria, Rwanda and Tanzania.

According to Russian FMS data, a total of 64 citizens of Central African Republic were residing in Russia as of April 2016. CAR is one of the most underpopulated countries in Africa. The Republic’s economy, with no access to the sea, gets by on gold and diamond mining and shoe manufacturing. There is no flow of refugees from CAR to Russia and Kevin’s case clearly shows that providing “sufficient grounds” to stay here is not easy, mildly speaking. But Kangi is still trying, first and foremost – for his family’s sake.

By Daria Manina, Civic Assistance Committee