Citizens of Ukraine released from places of imprisonment in the russian federation are subject to forced expulsion from the russian federation (deportation). However, the vast majority of those released do not have valid documents that allow them to legally cross the border (expired, lost during the investigation, etc.). Due to insurmountable circumstances, it is not possible to restore the documents. In practice, this leads to Ukrainians being held in temporary detention centers for months without clear prospects.
On September 29, 2023, the president of the russian federation signs Decree No. 734 on the procedure for exit/entry into the territory of the russian federation for Ukrainian citizens. Paragraphs 3 and 4 of the commented Decree essentially represent an attempt to resolve this problem by allowing travel using expired documents and/or issuing some kind of identification certificate that allows you to legally leave the territory of the russian federation. But the question remains open: will this certificate be recognized as a document giving the right to enter its territory by a third state (for obvious reasons, they are not expelled to the territory of Ukraine)? Only practice can answer this question.
At the time of writing this commentary, this practice does not exist.
In some cases, in order to issue an identification certificate, it is necessary for at least three citizens of the russian federation to confirm the identity of the person being identified in a confrontation. The possibility of implementing this requirement also remains unclear - who and where should look for these “identifiers”?
And from the point of view of common sense, the need to carry out a procedure to establish the identity of a person released from prison looks, to put it mildly, ridiculous. Does the state really not know who was sentenced, who served the sentence, and to whom it issued a release certificate?
But thanks for that. If the commented Decree allows now former prisoners to gain real freedom, then we can close our eyes to all its ambiguities and absurdities.
Currently, at the Verkhniy Lars checkpoint (russian-Georgian border) 7 citizens of Ukraine, former prisoners, are awaiting permission to enter Georgia. A significant part of them do not have passports, but have in their hands the very document confirming the establishment of their identity within russia. The guys crossed the Russian border without any problems, which means that the decree being commented on is working. Now the word is up to Georgia and Ukraine itself - how quickly they can confirm the identities and let Ukrainian citizens into the country.
UnMode is closely monitoring the situation as it develops.
Looking forward to positive practice!
We remind you:
In the fall of 2022, more than 2,500 Ukrainians who were in the penitentiary system of the temporarily occupied Kherson region of Ukraine were taken by russian special services through Crimea to russian territory. After the end of serving their sentence, released Ukrainians are indefinitely transferred to the local TDCfFC (Temporary Detention Center for Foreign Citizens). There is still no single mechanism for deporting such people.
Unmade continues to support Ukrainians in russian prisons, and we hope that thousands of Ukrainian citizens who have been held in russian prisons without documents for many months will finally receive legal status and the opportunity to return home.