The decision of the ECHR of December 22, 2020 in the case "Usmanov v. the Russian Federation (Usmanov v. Russia)" (aplication No. 43936/18).
In 2018, the applicant was assisted in preparing the aplication. Subsequently, the aplication was communicated to the Russian Federation.
In the case, an aplication was successfully considered about the disproportionate and arbitrary revocation of the applicant's citizenship due to his failure to report data about close relatives when applying for citizenship, which took place 10 years before the events in question. The case involved a violation of the requirements of article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicant was born in Tajikistan, he moved to the Russian Federation with his wife and children and received Russian citizenship. Ten years later, having discovered that when applying for citizenship, the applicant did not inform about his close relatives, the authorities of the Russian Federation deprived the applicant of citizenship, canceled his domestic and foreign passports, leaving the applicant without identity documents. The authorities of the Russian Federation also applied a ban on re-entry into the country and expelled the applicant from the territory of the Russian Federation in an administrative manner. The applicant unsuccessfully appealed against these decisions.
Regarding compliance with article 8 of the Convention. Considering the question of whether the cancellation of the decision on the applicant's citizenship was an interference with his rights guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention, the European Court noted the existence of broad approaches to this issue and followed the approach based on the consequences of actions (see the Decision of the Grand Chamber of the European Court in the case "Denisov v. Ukraine" (Denisov v. Ukraine) of 25 September 2018, complaint No. 76639/11 (Precedents of the European Court of Human Rights. Special issue. 2018. N 11)). The European Court considered (i) what consequences the appealed measure had for the applicant and (ii) whether the measure applied was arbitrary.
(i) The consequences for the applicant. The decision to revoke Russian citizenship deprived the applicant of any legal status in the Russian Federation. The applicant was left without any valid identity documents. As it was already established in the previous case-law of the European Court, citizens of the Russian Federation must prove their citizenship excessively often in their daily life, even when they perform such routine actions as exchanging currency or buying train tickets, and an internal passport is needed for more significant things, such as employment or receiving medical care. The absence of valid identity documents is punishable by a fine in the Russian Federation. In addition, the revocation of the applicant's citizenship was a precondition for the application of the ban on entry to the applicant and the decision to expel the applicant from the country. Thus, the revocation of the applicant's citizenship was an interference with the applicant's rights guaranteed by article 8 of the Convention.
(ii) Whether the measure applied was arbitrary. The revocation or revocation of citizenship as such is not incompatible with the requirements of the Convention. In order to assess whether Article 8 of the Convention was violated in the present case, the European Court had to consider the issues of the legality of the appealed measure, the accompanying procedural guarantees and how the courts of the Russian Federation responded to the applicant's complaints.
The cancellation of the decision on admission to citizenship was based on the provisions of the legislation of the Russian Federation. However, the European Court was not satisfied with either the accuracy of the mentioned legal norms or the procedural guarantees contained in the legislation of the Russian Federation at the time under consideration.
In order to comply with the requirements of the Convention, the law must be formulated using understandable terms. If a person's citizenship can be revoked or revoked due to the provision of false information by this person or the concealment of information, the law must contain an indication of the nature of this information. Although the migration authorities were entitled under the relevant legislation of the Russian Federation to cancel decisions on admission to citizenship of the Russian Federation, they were not required to make a reasoned decision indicating the exact factual reasons for justifying these decisions, such as related circumstances, for example, the nature of unreported information, the reasons why the information was not transmitted to the authorities, the time that has passed since obtaining citizenship, the strength of the ties established by a person in the country of acquisition of citizenship, the marital status of the person and other important factors. In particular, the competent authorities of the Russian Federation were not obliged to explain why the fact that the applicant did not specify the exact number of his close relatives was important for granting the applicant citizenship of the Russian Federation. It was also not explained whether the migration authorities could have refused to grant the applicant citizenship of the Russian Federation if they had known full information about the applicant's relatives. The migration authorities and the courts of the Russian Federation rejected as unfounded the applicant's argument that the missing information was not essential for obtaining Russian citizenship.
According to the authorities of the Russian Federation, after it was established that the data provided by the applicant was incomplete, the authorities of the Russian Federation had no choice but to cancel the decision on admission to citizenship, regardless of other important factors. In addition, it was not demonstrated that the courts of the Russian Federation should have considered these factors during the proceedings on the complaint. In the applicant's case, the district Court considered that the applicant's argument that he had strong ties in the Russian Federation was not relevant to the subject of the dispute.
Consequently, the legal framework in force during the period relating to the circumstances of the present case provided for an excessively formal approach to the issue of revoking the decision on admission to citizenship of the Russian Federation and did not provide a specific person with adequate protection from arbitrary interference. Further improvement of the applicable legislation of the Russian Federation could not change this conclusion, since the amendments made to the legislative acts did not affect the applicant's situation.
(iii) Conclusion. The authorities of the Russian Federation have not demonstrated why the applicant's mistake in not providing complete information about his close relatives was such a serious violation that it justified the applicant's deprivation of Russian citizenship several years after he received it. In the absence of a balance of interests of the parties, which should have been ensured by the authorities of the Russian Federation, the appealed measure was clearly disproportionate to the error made by the applicant.
The case involved a violation of the requirements of article 8 of the Convention (adopted unanimously).
The Court also ruled unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention in connection with the decision to expel the applicant from the territory of the Russian Federation.
In the application of article 41 of the Convention. The European Court awarded the applicant 162 and 1,000 euros in compensation for material damage and non-pecuniary damage, respectively.