Category Archives: freedom of movement

Neo-Soviet Russia is just like North Korea

Paul Goble, blogging at the Moscow Times:

A group of legal activists is working in the Russian capital to help people moving there comply with the law and work with a government registration system unlike any in the world — except for the one maintained by the regime in North Korea, claims one of the leaders of the “Illegals of Moscow” movement. In an interview posted on the Chaskor.ru portal this week, that individual, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the risk of reprisal from officials, said that Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s claim that such registration systems exist “in all the major capitals of the world” is simply “a lie.”

“There is nothing like [Moscow’s system] anywhere in the world,” the Illegals of Moscow leader said. Members of the organization “have specially studied this question, and the last country with such a registration [“propiska”] regime is the Korean People’s Democratic Republic” under Kim Jong-Il.

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The Horror of "Life" in Putin’s Russia

Blogger Tim Newman at White Sun of the Desert details the horrors of ordinary, day-to-day life in neo-Soviet Russia. There is no doubt that what Tim describes is flatly illegal under the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of movement and the right to live anywhere. But the propiska system continues despite the Constitution — yet the Kremlin does not hesitate to invoke claimed provisions of the Constitution on extradition in regard to Andrei Lugovoi. In other words, the Constitution exists when the Kremlin says it does.

One of my employees is a pleasant, reliable, and sober young man in his 20s, who works for us as a minibus driver. Finding a pleasant, reliable, and sober young man to work as a driver in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is akin to finding a pleasant, reliable, and sober builder in West Wales.

Unfortunately, it looks as though we’re going to have to get rid of him. His driving license expires next month, and in order to renew it he needs a permanent local address, where he is registered with the Russian authorities. In any normal country, a permanent address means anywhere which you are living, including a place you are legitimately renting. But in Russia, you can only get registration at an address if you own the property, or you were born into that address, i.e. your parents owned it. Our driver is from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and was registered at his parents’ apartment for most of his life, but they sold the place and moved away, leaving him renting a place here. When they sold the place, they lost their registration at that address, and the new owners were entitled to register themselves there instead. My driver then found himself without a registered address in his home town, or indeed anywhere else.

In Russia, those who do not have a registered address are classed as homeless, or bums. In short, a tramp. That this chap has a job, a place to eat, and a bed to sleep in matters not to the Russian authorities: if he is not regsitered somewhere, he is homeless.

And if you are homeless, you cannot renew your driving license. And if he doesn’t have a driving license, he cannot work for me as a driver, and he loses his job. Insanity.

A commenter offers a solution: “Well, as for your fellow money will be the best solution for him – just to find the right person to give to…:)”

Truly, Russia is a barbaric nation.

The Horror of "Life" in Putin’s Russia

Blogger Tim Newman at White Sun of the Desert details the horrors of ordinary, day-to-day life in neo-Soviet Russia. There is no doubt that what Tim describes is flatly illegal under the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of movement and the right to live anywhere. But the propiska system continues despite the Constitution — yet the Kremlin does not hesitate to invoke claimed provisions of the Constitution on extradition in regard to Andrei Lugovoi. In other words, the Constitution exists when the Kremlin says it does.

One of my employees is a pleasant, reliable, and sober young man in his 20s, who works for us as a minibus driver. Finding a pleasant, reliable, and sober young man to work as a driver in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is akin to finding a pleasant, reliable, and sober builder in West Wales.

Unfortunately, it looks as though we’re going to have to get rid of him. His driving license expires next month, and in order to renew it he needs a permanent local address, where he is registered with the Russian authorities. In any normal country, a permanent address means anywhere which you are living, including a place you are legitimately renting. But in Russia, you can only get registration at an address if you own the property, or you were born into that address, i.e. your parents owned it. Our driver is from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and was registered at his parents’ apartment for most of his life, but they sold the place and moved away, leaving him renting a place here. When they sold the place, they lost their registration at that address, and the new owners were entitled to register themselves there instead. My driver then found himself without a registered address in his home town, or indeed anywhere else.

In Russia, those who do not have a registered address are classed as homeless, or bums. In short, a tramp. That this chap has a job, a place to eat, and a bed to sleep in matters not to the Russian authorities: if he is not regsitered somewhere, he is homeless.

And if you are homeless, you cannot renew your driving license. And if he doesn’t have a driving license, he cannot work for me as a driver, and he loses his job. Insanity.

A commenter offers a solution: “Well, as for your fellow money will be the best solution for him – just to find the right person to give to…:)”

Truly, Russia is a barbaric nation.

The Horror of "Life" in Putin’s Russia

Blogger Tim Newman at White Sun of the Desert details the horrors of ordinary, day-to-day life in neo-Soviet Russia. There is no doubt that what Tim describes is flatly illegal under the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of movement and the right to live anywhere. But the propiska system continues despite the Constitution — yet the Kremlin does not hesitate to invoke claimed provisions of the Constitution on extradition in regard to Andrei Lugovoi. In other words, the Constitution exists when the Kremlin says it does.

One of my employees is a pleasant, reliable, and sober young man in his 20s, who works for us as a minibus driver. Finding a pleasant, reliable, and sober young man to work as a driver in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is akin to finding a pleasant, reliable, and sober builder in West Wales.

Unfortunately, it looks as though we’re going to have to get rid of him. His driving license expires next month, and in order to renew it he needs a permanent local address, where he is registered with the Russian authorities. In any normal country, a permanent address means anywhere which you are living, including a place you are legitimately renting. But in Russia, you can only get registration at an address if you own the property, or you were born into that address, i.e. your parents owned it. Our driver is from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and was registered at his parents’ apartment for most of his life, but they sold the place and moved away, leaving him renting a place here. When they sold the place, they lost their registration at that address, and the new owners were entitled to register themselves there instead. My driver then found himself without a registered address in his home town, or indeed anywhere else.

In Russia, those who do not have a registered address are classed as homeless, or bums. In short, a tramp. That this chap has a job, a place to eat, and a bed to sleep in matters not to the Russian authorities: if he is not regsitered somewhere, he is homeless.

And if you are homeless, you cannot renew your driving license. And if he doesn’t have a driving license, he cannot work for me as a driver, and he loses his job. Insanity.

A commenter offers a solution: “Well, as for your fellow money will be the best solution for him – just to find the right person to give to…:)”

Truly, Russia is a barbaric nation.

The Horror of "Life" in Putin’s Russia

Blogger Tim Newman at White Sun of the Desert details the horrors of ordinary, day-to-day life in neo-Soviet Russia. There is no doubt that what Tim describes is flatly illegal under the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of movement and the right to live anywhere. But the propiska system continues despite the Constitution — yet the Kremlin does not hesitate to invoke claimed provisions of the Constitution on extradition in regard to Andrei Lugovoi. In other words, the Constitution exists when the Kremlin says it does.

One of my employees is a pleasant, reliable, and sober young man in his 20s, who works for us as a minibus driver. Finding a pleasant, reliable, and sober young man to work as a driver in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is akin to finding a pleasant, reliable, and sober builder in West Wales.

Unfortunately, it looks as though we’re going to have to get rid of him. His driving license expires next month, and in order to renew it he needs a permanent local address, where he is registered with the Russian authorities. In any normal country, a permanent address means anywhere which you are living, including a place you are legitimately renting. But in Russia, you can only get registration at an address if you own the property, or you were born into that address, i.e. your parents owned it. Our driver is from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and was registered at his parents’ apartment for most of his life, but they sold the place and moved away, leaving him renting a place here. When they sold the place, they lost their registration at that address, and the new owners were entitled to register themselves there instead. My driver then found himself without a registered address in his home town, or indeed anywhere else.

In Russia, those who do not have a registered address are classed as homeless, or bums. In short, a tramp. That this chap has a job, a place to eat, and a bed to sleep in matters not to the Russian authorities: if he is not regsitered somewhere, he is homeless.

And if you are homeless, you cannot renew your driving license. And if he doesn’t have a driving license, he cannot work for me as a driver, and he loses his job. Insanity.

A commenter offers a solution: “Well, as for your fellow money will be the best solution for him – just to find the right person to give to…:)”

Truly, Russia is a barbaric nation.

The Horror of "Life" in Putin’s Russia

Blogger Tim Newman at White Sun of the Desert details the horrors of ordinary, day-to-day life in neo-Soviet Russia. There is no doubt that what Tim describes is flatly illegal under the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of movement and the right to live anywhere. But the propiska system continues despite the Constitution — yet the Kremlin does not hesitate to invoke claimed provisions of the Constitution on extradition in regard to Andrei Lugovoi. In other words, the Constitution exists when the Kremlin says it does.

One of my employees is a pleasant, reliable, and sober young man in his 20s, who works for us as a minibus driver. Finding a pleasant, reliable, and sober young man to work as a driver in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is akin to finding a pleasant, reliable, and sober builder in West Wales.

Unfortunately, it looks as though we’re going to have to get rid of him. His driving license expires next month, and in order to renew it he needs a permanent local address, where he is registered with the Russian authorities. In any normal country, a permanent address means anywhere which you are living, including a place you are legitimately renting. But in Russia, you can only get registration at an address if you own the property, or you were born into that address, i.e. your parents owned it. Our driver is from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and was registered at his parents’ apartment for most of his life, but they sold the place and moved away, leaving him renting a place here. When they sold the place, they lost their registration at that address, and the new owners were entitled to register themselves there instead. My driver then found himself without a registered address in his home town, or indeed anywhere else.

In Russia, those who do not have a registered address are classed as homeless, or bums. In short, a tramp. That this chap has a job, a place to eat, and a bed to sleep in matters not to the Russian authorities: if he is not regsitered somewhere, he is homeless.

And if you are homeless, you cannot renew your driving license. And if he doesn’t have a driving license, he cannot work for me as a driver, and he loses his job. Insanity.

A commenter offers a solution: “Well, as for your fellow money will be the best solution for him – just to find the right person to give to…:)”

Truly, Russia is a barbaric nation.

Draconian Neo-Soviet Travel Restrictions Appear

The Moscow Times reports that Russia has enacted a set of draconian neo-Soviet restrictions on the movements of foreigers within Russia. Logically, all Western governments with citizens subject to these restrictions should now adopt the same rules for Russians traveling in the West. Of course, these restrictions provide the Kremlin with yet anther excuse to harass, jail and eject any foreigner who dares to fail to toe the Kremlin line:

Thinking of jetting up to St. Petersburg for a week to see White Nights this summer? If you’re a foreigner and you want to spare your employer from a possible $30,000 fine, you’d better make sure the government knows you’re leaving town. According to a new law that came into effect Jan. 15, foreigners are now required to hand over their registration papers to migration officials — via their employer or other sponsor — every time they leave the country and re-register upon subsequent entry into the country. But the law is steeped in vagaries. Visa agencies say foreigners could incur heavy fines for their employers if they neglect to inform them of even a short trip out of town.

Hotels, for their part, say the amount of documentation on their foreign guests has become unduly burdensome. At least one St. Petersburg hotel has stopped admitting foreigners altogether.

The new law says a foreigner’s “inviting party” — an employer, landlord, hotel or other Russian host — is required to inform local migration officials of the foreigner’s arrival within three working days of entering the country. The inviting party is also required to inform authorities if the foreigner leaves Russia and it has two working days from the day of departure to do so. “The foreigner has to be stricken off the Federal Migration Service register, because he can’t be registered with the Federal Migration Service if he is not in Russia,” said Zalina Filimonova, spokeswoman for the Moscow branch of the migration service. “That’s pure logic.”

The law has been touted by migration officials as a simplification of the registration process. On paper, after all, the inviting party is merely required to submit information about the foreigner’s passport, visa and migration card to the local branch of the migration service. Migration officials then issue a registration card that the foreigner carries at all times as proof of being in the country legally. The card makes obsolete the previous practice of placing a registration stamp in passports.

In theory, the entire process can even be done at the post office, with a post office receipt serving as confirmation of a foreigner’s registration. But the new procedures could prove to be quite a hassle for foreigners who travel often — either internationally or within Russia, said Yekaterina Elekchyan of Your Lawyer, a legal firm specializing in visa and work-regulation issues. “On the one hand, it’s easier in that the landlord doesn’t have to physically go down to the DEZ,” Elekchyan said, referring to the local building-utilities administrator offices that were obligatory stopovers for foreigners’ landlords under the old registration rules. “But for a foreigner who enters and leaves the country quite often, it’s not very convenient to have to turn in documents every time.” Foreigners must turn in their registration card when they leave for another region, Filimonova said. Then, upon arrival, the inviting party must register the foreigner with local migration officials within three days and inform them of his departure no later than two days after he leaves.

Under the law, the inviting party is fully responsible for registering the foreigner. According to information posted on the web site of the Moscow branch, fines for breaching the rules run up to 4,000 rubles for a Russian citizen hosting a foreigner and up to 800,000 rubles ($30,000) for employers. One large Western-managed company informed its foreign employees recently in an internal memo that they would have any fines deducted from their salaries if they did not inform the company of their international travel plans. Federal Migration Service spokesman Denis Soldatikov said Friday that authorities would not be “hunting” down violators. “But if people are found in violation, they will be fined,” he said.

Inexplicably, Soldatikov contradicted the deadlines and procedures given in the law itself. He said the inviting party must inform authorities of a foreigner’s arrival within 30 days and departure with 10 days. Soldatikov — in another contradiction of what the law says — also insisted that a foreigner does not have to turn in the registration card upon leaving the country.

Alexei Filipenkov, deputy chairman of Association of European Businesses’ visa task force, said the law is so muddled and riddled with holes that it is impossible to enforce. “Nobody knows what is going on,” he said. “I ask one migration official what to do, and he tells me one thing. On the same day I go to another official, and they tell me something completely different. Nobody knows what is going on because the rules are constantly being changed.”

One group that is already lobbying for changes in the law are hoteliers. One large Moscow hotel said it has had to hire two employees to deal exclusively with filling out the increased paperwork for foreign guests, and because the local branch of the migration service is understaffed, the employees themselves must sit down and enter the data into the migration service’s system. “Until our employee sits down and enters every single form in to their system by manually typing, no one is registered,” said an executive from the hotel, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing company policy. Soldatikov, the migration service spokesman, denied that hotel employees might be entering information into the migration service’s database. “Access to those computers is restricted,” he said. Soldatikov said hotels had no grounds for complaint and that the system had changed little for them.

One small hotel chain in St. Petersburg, however, has stopped accepting foreigners for fear that a single violation of the new law could result in a hefty fine. “Fortunately it’s not high season yet, and primarily Russian citizens are on business trips,” Marina Slesareva, deputy head of the Rinaldi chain, told Komsomolskaya Pravda. “It’s scary to think what will happen in the summer. Not one single branch of the Federal Migration Service can tell us what to do under the new rules.”