28 March 2023
by Tatyana Kotlyar, human rights activist, winner of the MHG Prize
Who are the most powerless people in Russia? It isn’t prisoners. It’s migrants, people without Russian passports. Anything can happen to them, and happen it does. People forget that they are human beings just like us.
Why do people do this to them? I believe that the go-ahead comes from the governor of Kaluga Oblast, V. V. Shapsha.
Here’s a concrete example.
A family lives in Obninsk: a husband, wife, two children, an apartment with a mortgage. The wife and children are Russian citizens, while the husband is a foreign citizen, a migrant. The husband is registered and lives legally in Obninsk. The husband goes to the Passport Office (Migration Department) of the Russian Department of Internal Affairs in Obninsk to apply for a temporary residence permit in the Russian Federation as the spouse of a Russian citizen. The head of Internal Affairs, Maksimenko, reviewed the documents and sent them back, saying the application would not be accepted because the marriage is fictitious and took place in Moscow, and that the registration is also fictitious, that the husband does not live there. Maksimenko started yelling loudly that he should go and live in Moscow, that he wouldn’t get anything in Obninsk, and that if he came back she would deport him. The man tried to explain that he and his wife have young children together and their own apartment, and that he had never lived in Moscow, only in Obninsk, but no one listened…
Naturally, that same day this person wrote a complaint to a higher authority: the Department of Internal Affairs of Kaluga Region and the Main Department of Internal Affairs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia. But for a migrant to complain is also dangerous! The response to the complaint was a phone call. The man was called and invited to the Obninsk Migration Division of the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, where he was silently handed a notice that his period of stay on the territory of the Russian Federation had been reduced, requiring him to leave Russia within three days.
That’s not even the official taking the law into their own hands. It’s God knows who taking the law into their own hands.
And most importantly, Maksimenko, the head of the Passport Office (Migration Department) in Obninsk will not be punished for this petty tyrany. She won’t lose her job and she won’t even be reprimanded.
Why is that? Because the governor allows it. I believe that the go-ahead came from the governor of Kaluga Oblast, V. V. Shapsha.
Translated by Nina dePalma