Staunton, November 18 – Stripping someone born in Russia of Russian citizenship seems “an act of insanity,” Aleksandra Dokuchayeva says, even “an anti-state act” given that the ranks of the Russian people are “thinning.” But one man is at risk of this happening, and he is on hunger strike to prevent his deportation or confinement in a psychiatric hospital.
Dokuchayeva of the Institute for CIS Countries says the Russian Constitutional Court laid down in 1996 the six standards someone had to meet to be a Russian citizen: being born on the territory of the RSFSR, having USSR citizenship, never having given up Russian citizenship, nonetheless having lived in one of the former Soviet republics, never took citizenship in one of these post-Soviet republics, and having returned to live in Russia” (materik.ru/rubric/detail.php?ID=92661).
Those appear straightforward, but officials in the migration service have complicated them to the point that many who should qualify for Russian citizenship under these terms can’t – and now one, Vladimir Ogibenin, is in jail and at risk of deportation from Russia as “an undesirable alien.”
What adds to the absurdity of the actions of these officials is that Ogibenin came to the Russian Federation with his wife and children from Crimea which, according to Russian law, is now part of the Russian Federation. The migration service officials have consistently ruled against him for almost 20 years, citing one problem or another.
He has been driven to the point of suicide, Dokuchayeva says, and only the courts if they are honest can save him. But the situation is becoming even more absurd, she continues. If he is to be deported, where is he to be sent? “To Crimea where he and his family were born – or to Ukraine where they never were?”
“The cause of the tragedy of Ogibenin’s family are the state migration authorities, that is, the State.” For more than two weeks, he has been on hunger strike. These same authorities are threatening him with a psychiatric prison where they will turn him ‘into a vegetable’” for having dared to ask that the powers “recognize the illegal nature of refusing his registration as a citizen of Russia by birth” and trying to “throw him out of the body of the Russian people.”
The migration service so far has dug in, Dokuchayeva suggests; but its members and the Russian courts need to ask themselves “what is more important for our law enforcement personnel – to defend the law, dignity and honor of an individual or to defend ‘the honor of the uniform of those who do not know this law and trample on human rights.”
What makes Dokuchayev’s statement so important is that it comes not from a human rights critic of the Putin regime but from someone who personally and professionally is a defender of what that regime does most of the time.