«The Russian Federation has a centralized political system, with power concentrated in a president and a prime minister, a weak multiparty political ...»
Citizens changing residence within the country, migrants, and persons with a legal claim to Russian citizenship who moved to the country from other former-Soviet republics often faced great difficulties or simply were not permitted to register in some cities. The registration process in local police precincts was often corrupt.
There were frequent reports of police expecting bribes to process registration applications and demanding them during spot checks for registration documentation.
In the aftermath of the December race-fueled Manezh riots in Moscow, Prime Minister Putin met with soccer fans and suggested that rules for internal migration and registration should be tightened.
The law provides for freedom to travel abroad, and citizens generally did so without restriction. Citizens with access to classified material, however, needed to obtain police and FSB clearances to receive a passport for international travel.
The law prohibits forced exile, and the government did not employ it. The law provides all citizens with the right to emigrate, and this right was respected.
Internally Displaced Persons The UNHCR reported that there were 75,323 IDPs in the country as of December 31, mainly in the North Caucasus. At year's end, 16,518 IDPs remained displaced to Ingushetiya by Chechnya's second conflict, according to the UNHCR. Of these, 13,852 persons lived in private quarters, while 2,666 resided in temporary settlements. The UNHCR reported that Ingushetiya was also home to 10,047 IDPs from Prigorodny, North Ossetia. As of July, 2,578 Chechen IDPs were living in Dagestan, with an estimated 188 living in temporary settlements and temporary accommodation centers within Chechnya proper and 2,390 in private settlements.
Also as of July, nearly 22,193 forced migrants from South Ossetia, Georgia, remained in North Ossetia; another 20,193 were from the conflict in the early 1990s, and 2,000 were displaced as a result of the August 2008 conflict, according to the UNHCR.
RUSSIAAlthough sources differed on the exact figures, approximately 46,000 IDPs returned from Chechnya to Ingushetiya and Dagestan in the last six and a half years. Authorities discontinued use of negative incentives--including deregistration from IDP rolls, cancellation of food assistance, and utility cuts to temporary settlements-- used in 2009 to induce often-unwilling IDPs in Ingushetiya to return to Chechnya; however, the Ingushetiya office of the Federal Migration Service refused to accept any claims for reinstatement on its registration lists. Authorities maintained a policy of compensating persons who lost housing in military operations; however, compensation was typically inadequate to insure long-term shelter for beneficiaries.
Protection of Refugees The laws provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees.
In practice the government provided some protection against the expulsion or return of persons to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion; however, the responsible agency, the Federal Migration Service, did not maintain a presence at airports orother border points. Asylum seekers thus had to rely on the good will of border guards and airline personnel to call immigration officials to the scene or else face immediate return to their countries of origin, including in some cases to countries where a well-founded fear of persecution could be demonstrated.
Sixteen self-identified Somali asylum seekers, who in March 2009 attempted to transit Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport without documents, spent several months living in the airport's transit zone, at times compelled to beg for food from airline passengers. The group's men, women, and children had difficulty accessing the system for applying for asylum and obtained basic social services only through the UNHCR's intervention. At the end of the year, six of these asylum seekers remained at Sheremyetevo Airport. All of the applicants were rejected for asylum;
some were appealing, while several returned to Somalia.
By law the decision of a Migration Service official could be appealed to a higherranking authority or to a court. During the appeal process, the applicant received the rights of a person whose application for refugee status was being considered. A
RUSSIAperson who did not satisfy the criteria for refugee status, but could not be expelled or deported for humanitarian reasons, could be granted temporary asylum after submitting a separate application.
The government rarely granted convention status to those who managed to present their asylum applications to the migration service. The UNHCR and NGOs stated that asylum seekers at times faced detention, deportation, fines by police, and racially motivated assaults.
The UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration, and NGOs assisted the government in trying to develop a more humane migration management system.
The Federal Migration Service cooperated well with international organizations to provide training for its officers throughout the country to insure they understood refugee law.
For asylum seekers who were allowed into the country to pursue their claims, the refugee law provides the right to temporary accommodations. However, there was only one facility with such accommodations in the country, located in Ocher, in Perm Region, far from major cities where asylum seekers concentrated. There were no reception centers at border points. The Federal Migration Service and its territorial branches are obliged by law to cover travel expenses to centers for holders and seekers of refugee or temporary asylum status. However, the law was not respected in practice, and the trip to the center was usually funded by the UNHCR or the individual involved.
While federal law provides for education for all children, regional authorities occasionally denied access to schools to children of asylum seekers if they lacked residential registration. However, when parents encountered difficulties enrolling their children in schools, authorities generally cooperated with the UNHCR to resolve the problem. Authorities frequently denied migrants the right to work if they did not have residential registration. Refugees also may not legally work if they are not registered and cannot obtain registration unless they have an employer or landlord willing to register them.
Human rights groups continued to allege that authorities made improper use of international agreements that permitted them to temporarily detain persons with outstanding arrest warrants from other former-Soviet states. This system, enforced by informal ties among senior law enforcement officials of the countries concerned, permitted detention for up to one month while the prosecutor general
RUSSIAinvestigated the nature of the warrants. Human rights groups asserted that these arrangements were employed to detain, and possibly repatriate, opponents of the governments of other former Soviet republics without legal grounds.
In June the "Ivanovo Uzbeks," a group of 13 persons arrested in 2005, received permission to depart the country to take up offers of asylum in Sweden. In 2008 the ECHR had ordered authorities not to return the 13 to Uzbekistan and to pay each 15,000 euros ($20,100) in restitution for two years spent in detention for alleged involvement in violent unrest in Andijan, Uzbekistan. According to the UNHCR, six men and their families have departed for Sweden, and seven men and their family members, altogether consisting of 26 persons, were expected to depart in early 2011. Two other Uzbek families included in the departure list to third countries were resettled in Sweden in September and November.
Citizenship is derived both by birth within the country's territory within certain restrictions and from one's parents. A child becomes a citizen at birth if both parents are citizens; if one parent is a citizen and the other one is stateless; if one parent is a citizen and the other is a foreigner and the child was born on the territory of the country; or if both parents are foreigners or stateless and the child was born on the territory of the country and there is concern the child might become stateless. At year's end the UNHCR preliminarily estimated that there were 44,000 stateless persons, based on data from local authorities and NGOs. Federal Migration Service statistics indicated at the end of 2008 that 21,443 stateless persons were registered in the country.
In Krasnodar Kray, at least several hundred (with some estimates as high as 5,000) Meskhetian Turks, Batumi Kurds, Hemshils, and Yezidis, both political and environmental refugees, and their descendants, remained without Russian passports and were denied the right to register as residents, which deprived them of all rights of citizenship and prevented them from working legally, leasing land, or selling goods. The law in Krasnodar Kray that defines illegal migrants includes stateless persons.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
RUSSIAThe law provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully in regularly scheduled national and regional elections; however, citizens could not exercise this right in practice, as the government limited the ability of opposition parties to organize, register candidates for public office, access the media, or conduct political campaigns.
Elections and Political Participation
On March 14, regional and local elections were held in 76 of the federation's 83 regions and were marked by irregularities, including the misuse of absentee ballots, vote buying, and busing in of voters, according to the election monitoring NGO, GOLOS. The Communist Party also claimed that in the Krasnodar Region, United Russia bused police cadets to vote for their candidate in the mayoral elections where they were not registered.
In the October 10 regional and municipal elections, opposition parties continued to complain of a variety of electoral violations, including denial of candidate registration and ballot box manipulation. Regional and municipal elections held in March and October 2009 were also marred by violations, including interference with election monitors, intimidation of voters, and ballot box stuffing.
In 2008 the country held presidential elections in which Dmitriy Medvedev, the candidate of the ruling United Russia Party, received 70 percent of the vote.
Observers from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe stated that the elections were not free or fair. GOLOS reported massive, widespread violations, as with the Duma elections held in 2007. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) representative on freedom of the media reported numerous media freedom violations during the parliamentary and presidential elections. Electoral violations and problems observed by GOLOS included an "unprecedented" number of absentee ballots, collective voting under pressure, multiple voting, and vote-counting irregularities. GOLOS observers, however, reported that voting procedures were well-organized and that the secrecy of voting was mostly respected. In both the presidential and parliamentary elections, official delays in issuing visas and restrictions on the activities of the mission led the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to decline to send observation missions.
The law gives the president significant indirect influence over the Federation Council, since regional leaders selected by the president in turn appoint half of its
RUSSIAmembers. Political parties that win elections to regional parliaments may propose candidates for the head of a region, but the selection is still subject to the president's and the regional legislature's approval.
Since 2004 the president has had the authority to nominate regional governors, subject to confirmation by regional legislatures. If a regional legislature fails to confirm the president's nominee three times, the president may dissolve the legislature. The federal president also has the power to remove regional leaders in whom he loses confidence, including those who were popularly elected. In September President Medvedev exercised this power in removing Yury Luzhkov, the long-serving and three times popularly elected mayor of Moscow (the positions of mayor in Moscow and St. Petersburg have a status similar to that of governor).
On October 21, the Moscow City Duma confirmed Medvedev's pick, Sergey Sobyanin, as the new mayor.
In 2009 legislation was enacted to allow city legislatures and governors to remove popularly elected mayors (as of 2006 approximately one-third of the country's municipalities were headed by elected mayors, according to a government Web site). In June the Murmansk City Council removed Mayor Sergey Subbotin from office, and mayors of several small cities have been removed in similar fashion.
Smolensk Mayor Eduard Kachanovskiy was removed from office due to charges of extortion, and possibly influenced by his refusal to obey an earlier United Russia request to withdraw from elections for the party's preferred candidate. In February Smolensk Governor Sergey Antufyev called for the abolishment of the Smolensk direct mayoral elections, stating that "popular elections are a risk."