The Russian authorities apply migration legislation to such Crimeans, which entails restrictions on freedom of movement, employment and medical care as well as administrative punishment.
The Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG) has studied the practice of enforcing Article 18.8 of the Russian Federation Code of Administrative Offences (Violation by a foreign citizen or stateless person of the rules for entering the Russian Federation or the regime of stay (residence) in the Russian Federation) in Crimea during 2019. This is the article that is mostly often applied by the RF authorities in Crimea to persecute the Ukrainian nationals who have not obtained so called an ‘automatic’ RF passport.
To collect information, the websites of the Crimean “courts” controlled by the Russian Federation were used.
The CHRG has documented at least 1,249 court decisions to prosecute under Art. 18.8 of the Russian Federation Code of Administrative Offences. The CHRG possesses information on the results of 1,080 of them. The “courts” of the appellate instance overturned only 7 such decisions, the rest remained in force.
The results of the Crimean “court” sites monitoring are presented in more detail in Table 1.
Of 1,080 decisions under the RF CoAO Art. 18.8 677 were issued against the Ukrainian nationals, 313 – against foreign nationals, another 90 – against citizens whose citizenship could not be established. It should be noted that the authorities of the Russian Federation also brought to justice foreign citizens who at the time of the beginning of the occupation had permits to stay on the territory of Ukraine issued by the Ukrainian authorities.
All decisions made under the RF CoAO Art. 18.8, imposed administrative penalties as fines. The total amount of fines under this article in Crimea in 2019, according to the decisions, was at least RUR2,632,500. The judges also penalized the Ukrainian nationals who had to obtain a residence permit after the occupation, but did not submit an annual notice to the RF FMS.
Of 1,080 published decisions, 361 imposed a punishment not only as fine, but also additionally expulsion from Crimea. In 2019, 171 decisions on expulsion were made against Ukrainian nationals living on the peninsula.
Distribution of decisions made under the RF CoAO Art. 18.8, in Crimea regarding the citizenship of persons brought to justice.
This diagram shows that in 2019 mostly the Ukrainian nationals were punished in Crimea under the RF CoAO Article 18.8.
A more detailed information on the Crimean ‘courts’ decisions to expulse under the RF CoAO Article 18.8 can be found in Table 2.
Table 2 and the diagram of the results of decisions on expulsion in Crimea show that in 2019 the highest number of expulsion decisions were issued by the “courts” of Yalta, Alushta, Feodosiya, Evpatoriya, Sudak, Sevastopol and Simferopol. Perhaps this is due to the fact that these regions are leaders in terms of population density. On the other hand, if we compare the total number of decisions issued under the RF CoAO Art. 18.8, with decisions on expulsions (as shown in the following graph), the high percentage of expulsion decisions in the “courts” of Yalta (53%), Alushta (77.5%), Sudak (91%), Sevastopol and Simferopol (over 50%) should be paid attention to. This is specifically noticeable when considering the practice of the ‘courts’ of central and northern Crimea, where the number of expulsion decisions is substantially lower with the rather high number of decisions on punishing under the RF CoAO Article 18.8. in general.
One of the supposed reasons for such a “disproportion” may be the purposeful policy of the Russian authorities to “squeeze out” the unwanted for them population from the southern coast of Crimea, Simferopol and Sevastopol. This is also confirmed by the previously recorded facts of applying the RF CoAO Article 18.8 by the RF Ministry of Internal Affairs staff to expel activists disloyal to the Russian Federation, for example, Alexander Kovalchuk in 2017 and Yevgeny Gaivoronsky in 2019.
In addition, while monitoring the decisions, the CHRG identified another example of arbitrary discretion of the RF MIA men in Yalta and the “Yalta City Court” against a citizen of Ukraine.
For instance, on August 16, 2019, the Russian policemen detained a citizen of Ukraine Sh., who did not have a migration card with him. He lives in Yalta and takes care of his sick mother. After the detention, under torture, the police “beat out” a confession from the citizen of Ukraine that he was supposed to be in hostile relations with his mother and want to leave for the territory controlled by Ukraine. Based on the confession, Nadezhda Dvirnyk, a judge of ‘Yalta Town Court’, passed a judgement on forced expulsion of Mr.Sh., and he was sent right from the courtroom to the Russian Federation to the “Center for temporary detention of foreign citizens and stateless persons subject to administrative expulsion from the Russian Federation, deportation or readmission” in the Rostov region. He was kept there for more than 2 weeks, until the “court” of the appellate instance overturned the expulsion decision on the basis of a statement made by his mother and the lawyer. It is noteworthy that the “court”, when overturning the decision, took into account the actual existence of migration card, and not the fact of torture. And, accordingly, the RF MIA staff were not brought to justice for the use of torture.
Another negative trend in 2019 was ignoring the presence of close relatives when making decisions on expulsion, by the “courts”. The CHRG recorded the facts of expelling the Ukrainian citizens, despite their children and spouses residing in Crimea. The facts of the presence of relatives are also ignored when considering cases in the “courts” of the second instance. In their decisions, the “judges” copy the judgement of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated February 19, 2019 No. 11-AD 19-З2, stating the decision to deport a citizen of Ukraine from the Russian Federation, despite the presence of close relatives. This practice constitutes a gross interference with private and family life (violation of Art. 8 ECHR).
The deportation of the Ukrainian nationals from the occupied territory of Ukraine constitutes a violation of the international humanitarian law norms, this is another war crime of the Russian Federation committed in Crimea. Separating Ukrainians from their families living in Crimea violates the right to respect for private and family life. The persecution of Crimeans in the occupied territory for non-possession of Russian documents violates a number of international norms, with non-possession of such documents, in fact, being an attribute for discriminating regularly the Ukrainian nationals in Crimea.