ECHR ruling of June 12, 2018 in the case of Alpeyeva and Dzhalagoniya (Alpeyeva and Dzhalagoniya) v. Russia (applications N 7549/09 and 3330/11).
In 2009 and 2011, complainants were assisted in preparing applications. Subsequently, the applications were merged and communicated to the Russian Federation.
The case has successfully examined applications about the arbitrary cancellation of Russian passports issued to former citizens of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The case was a violation of Article 8 of the Convention.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicant moved to the Russian Federation in 1994, after the Russian Embassy in Kyrgyzstan stamped on her Soviet passport that she had received Russian citizenship. In 2001, the applicant was issued an internal Russian passport, but in 2006, when she applied for a foreign passport, the internal passport was seized on the grounds that the applicant had never properly received the citizenship of the Russian Federation.
In 1998, the applicant, who had lived in the Russian Federation since the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, received an insert in his Soviet passport confirming that he had citizenship of the Russian Federation. In 2002, the applicant received a Russian passport. However, in 2010, when the applicant was 45 years old, and he applied for a replacement of an internal Russian passport, he was denied this on the grounds that the authorities could not find registration records that the applicant had ever been granted citizenship of the Russian Federation.
Both applicants unsuccessfully appealed against the relevant decisions in the domestic courts of the Russian Federation. Subsequently, they received citizenship of the Russian Federation: the applicant - in 2010, the applicant - in 2013.
QUESTIONS OF LAW
Although the present case concerned that the domestic authorities had decided that the applicants had never properly acquired the citizenship of the Russian Federation, the European Court applied the principles regarding the arbitrary refusal to grant citizenship or the withdrawal of citizenship (see European Court of Justice in the case of Carasas v. Finland "(Karassev v. Finland) of January 12, 1999, complaint No. 31414/96, European Court of Justice in the case of Genovese v. Malta of October 11, 2011, complaint No. 53124/09, Resolution European Ramadan v. Malta court case on June 21, 2016, complaint No. 76136/12, European Court of Justice decision in K2 v. United Kingdom case (February 7, 2017) ., complaint no. 42387/13).
The appealed decisions deprived the applicants of the legal status in the Russian Federation, and as a result they turned out to be stateless persons. They were left without any documents proving their identity, which led to significant difficulties for them in everyday life, as citizens of the Russian Federation often had to prove their identity, even when performing such routine processes as currency exchange or buying train tickets. Moreover, the internal passport was also needed for more important actions, such as hiring or receiving medical care (as established in the European Court of Justice in the Smirnovy v. Russia case of July 24, 2003, complaints NN 46133/99 and 48183/99). As for the applicant, the fact that he did not complete the procedure for the mandatory replacement of a passport, was also considered an administrative offense. Thus, the decisions appealed against constitute an interference with the applicants' right to respect for their private life.
However, the decisions were based on current legislation, and the applicants took the opportunity to appeal to the domestic courts, which considered their complaints at two levels of jurisdiction. Consequently, the applicants, who did not complain of any procedural violations, received all the necessary procedural guarantees.
Taking into account the report of the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation on the practice of seizing passports from citizens of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics who arrived in the Russian Federation from the former Soviet republics, the documents confirming the citizenship of the applicants could have been used improperly. However, this could have happened not through the fault of the applicants, but due to the lack of clear procedures and uniform databases, as well as due to mistakes made by government officials.
Due to the authorities' negligence regarding the procedure for granting citizenship, the applicants found themselves in a situation that is not only similar to the situation in the Smirnovs against the Russian Federation case mentioned above, but also faced consequences that had a much stronger effect on their social position. deprived of any legal status in the Russian Federation. They became stateless and remained so until 2010 and 2013, respectively. It took the authorities several years, from 2007, when the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation drew the attention of the authorities to this problem, until 2013, in order to resolve this issue. Due to the fact that the mistake of the authorities led to consequences that greatly affected the applicants privacy, it was an arbitrary interference with the applicants' conventional law. Consequently, the authorities of the respondent State did not act properly.
The case was a violation of Article 8 of the Convention (adopted unanimously).
In application of Article 41 of the Convention. The Court has awarded EUR 2,400 to each of the applicants in respect of non-pecuniary damage.