Three days ago, Russian MVD commandos raided the offices of Garry Kasparov under the auspices of the “On combating extremism law.” The law, which was passed in July of this year, expanded the definition of “extremism” to include public slander of officials, as well and include acts of vandalism, racism, and other forms of political extremism. The law was originally passed to target the far Right, but hearings held by the Federation Council in October argued that the law should be expanded to include the far Left. A report prepared by the Prosecutor general’s Office for the hearings stated, “members of such informal groups of extremism inclination as skinheads, Russian National Unity and the National Bolshevik Party not only spread the idea of national, racial and religious enmity and hatred, they commit crimes on those grounds against the lives and health of citizens that cause public reaction.” The raid on Kasparov’s offices is a direct result. Kommersant described the raid as follows:
At around 3 PM today, 15 commandos from the Internal Affairs Ministry’s anti-terrorism unit stormed into the Moscow headquarters of Garry Kasparov’s political party, the United Civil Front (OGF), and presented a warrant authorizing them to search the premises. The warrant stated that the unit had received a tip that the office contained literature that activists from the National Bolshevik Party and the “Red Youth Vanguard” plan to distribute at the “March of Dissent” on December 16. The premises were searched for information “about the possible dissemination of literature that contains public incitements to extremist acts.” OGF managing director Denis Bilunov told Kommersant that the police removed some books and newspapers from the office, including the books “Nord-Ost: The Unfinished Investigation,” “Beslan Against the Hostages,” and “The Putin Regime: Ideas and Practice,” as well as OGF newspapers, stickers, and agitprop materials for the “March of Dissent.”
The MVD press secretary claimed that there was “no search,” that the raid was “precautionary” and that “nothing was seized.” This is an obvious lie. The Kommersant report states that the MVD confiscated literature to examine for “extremist” content. While the “extremist law” provided the method, the real purpose was clear: outright political intimidation. The oppositionists, however, weren’t deterred and vowed to hold their march.
In a press conference on Thursday, members of the “Other Russia” coalition, which includes Kasparov, Eduard Limonov, and Ivan Starikov blasted the raid as “an absolute violation of our constitutional rights.” Kasparov added, “Without a doubt, such actions are an attempt by the authorities to apply the law against extremism…to those who do not belong to Putin’s ruling party. Now the authorities and the president understand that the opposition has finally united, and thus they are using their full repressive mechanism of intimidation.” Those familiar with protest politics in the United States will hear an eerie echo in Other Russia’s complaints. American activists often have to deal with the same types of preemptive raids, arrests, and intimidation.
Such statements about the violation of rights, while ideally true, might have no material legal weight. Here the Russian extremist law reveals its janus face: it expands the definition of extremism to uphold one’s “constitutional rights” by cracking down on political activity that falls outside the mainstream, but at the same time violates those constitutional rights by defining the mainstream itself via the exclusion of what has been deemed extremist. The extremist law therefore upholds and the same time it violates “constitutional rights.”
One shouldn’t be surprised that this. And it is apparent that Kasparov isn’t. It’s clear from his above statement that he understands that the extremist law is an attempt to not only exclude certain groups and ideologies from politics, but to define the very borders of acceptable politics itself. All laws that categorize certain groups outside the law (i.e. extremists, fascists, anarchists, terrorists, enemy combatants) inevitably re-inscribe them back into it. That is to say, the very law that ensures, protects, upholds freedom at the same time regulates, violates, and undermines it.
In this sense “Other Russia” is morally right but perhaps legally wrong. The MVD raid was a violation of their rights in that they do have a right to express their political views without state intimidation and coercion. But they are also wrong in that the state itself has the right to define what legally constitutes “extremism” and therefore the constitutive meaning of the very democratic rights Other Russia claims were violated.
The theoretics of law and political rights aside, Other Russia held their march in Moscow despite the mayor’s office banned it. Estimates put it at 2000, but possibly up to 3000 demonstrators. A portion of these numbers were decimated in preemptive arrests by police. Reports say that hundreds were detained as they came off of buses and trains. At the march, protesters chanted slogans like “Freedom” and held banners reading “No to Police State” and “Russia Without Putin.” According to police spokesman, Yevgeny Gildeyev, about 8,500 police were deployed throughout the city. A thousand of them were perched in riot gear with police dogs in hand at the march itself.
The question will now be whether “the March of Dissent” will be more than a symbolic gesture. It is true that it shows an opposition united. But unity is not enough for such a small group of outsiders looking to make inroads with an electorate. The same analysis that one applies to the leftist opposition in America can be applied to their Russian counterparts. A successful movement cannot generate support if their message is simply being against power. It must provide its own alternative course that appeals to people’s lives. Shouting about freedom and democracy is fine, but these are abstractions that have no stable definition and often no material affect. Most citizens go throughout their lives never feeling the injustice that the opposition is claiming.
Politics, however, is rarely played among the masses. It is more often the game of the few. Here the over the top police presence was certainly a sign that the state was watching with concern. However, some may say that the protest was unsuccessful because protestors only outnumbered police by 2 to 1. But really, it was the state that lost this one. First, the state’s unwarranted intimidation and coercion made the “March of Dissent” news. The English language press is already eating the story up. Second, having so many police shows that Other Russia poses a threat to someone and something in the government. Other Russia can therefore take this as a sign that they have some political impact since their political influence is nil. Third, the fact that Other Russia successfully defied the city’s ban on the march and got a decent turnout gives them an emotional and moral victory. Whether that can be harnessed into real political action remains to be seen.
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Kommersant reports that police investigating Anna Politkovskaya’s murder have settled on a dominant theory about who killed her. Police have descended on the Siberian city of Nizhnevartovsk because they suspect that the killer is linked to former policemen there. Kommersant reporter Sergei Mashkin writes,
“Information received from Khant-Mansiiskii police was the reason why investigators from the General Prosecutor and operatives from Russian MVD Criminal Investigation Department departed [to Nizhnevartovsk]. One of the police there saw someone who looks like their former colleagues—Mayor Alexandr Prilepin and Colonel Valerii Minin. Presently there is an international search for them for crimes they committed in Chechnya.
However, the investigators have been unsuccessful in finding the mayor or the colonel. Possibly the police informant was mistaken or former colleagues warned the fugitives beforehand. As a result, the investigators had to be satisfied with interrogating Prilepin’s and Minin’s comrades and even their relatives.”
Prilepin and Minin are wanted in connection with the 2001 the kidnapping and death of a Chechen man named Zelimkhan Murdalov. Politkovskaya, working in tandem with Memorial, reported his disappearance and murder in Novaya gazeta in 2002. The articles were instrumental in Former Police Lieutenant Sergei Lapin’s conviction to eleven years in prison for the murder. People connected to Lapin are suspected because according to court documents, Lapin told Politkovskaya in a 2002 email, “You have ten days to publish a retraction. Otherwise the policemen you have hired to protect you will be powerless to help.”
There are three theories about who murdered Politkovskaya. The involvement of people close to Lapin was one theory. The others suggested that Razman Kadyrov had Politkovskaya murdered or that she was killed by opponents of the Kremlin to destabilize Russia.Post Views: 91
As I’ve already indicated, the adoption and enforcement of the January 15 migration law has caused confusion among administrators, police, officials, and foreigners alike. Nothing points to this confusion more than the following transcript of Vyacheslav Postavnin’s briefing with the American Chamber of Commerce on February 8. I provide the transcript here as it was posted on Johnson’s Russia List #41, with some minor edits to reduce its length.
The briefing is interesting reading for a number of reasons. First it shows just how confusing the registration process is to most people, including Russians. Second, it gives a picture of the Russian bureaucratic process. There are many times when Postavnin urges questioners to apply to him personally. Not only does this suggest that Postavnin is well aware that existing bureaucratic channels are clogged, confused or just broken, it also shows that in
intervention by powerful figures can side step much of the bureaucratic morass. In Russia, the political is personal Russia and the vertical flows of power quickly trump horizontal ones. Lastly, Postavnin’s opening remarks places ’s problems with immigration and migration squarely within a global context. The problem as he notes is about labor, whether that labor be skilled or unskilled. Migration and immigration policy is about controlling the virtually uncontrollable fluidity of the labor market; a task that is not without its own domestic, economic, and international pressures. The only question is whether Russian Government’s insistence that keeping a policy of internal registration is really sound even if there efforts to simplify it. It is here that Russia ’s migration policies might prove to be an unremitting contradiction to the flow of capital and profit. Russia
American Chamber of Commerce in Russia
Amcham Briefing Meeting With Vyacheslav Postavnin, Deputy Head Of The Federal Migration Service
Marriott Grand Hotel, 12:40, February 8, 2007
Andrew B. Somers, President, American Chamber of Commerce in
Somers: Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to start our event. As you can all see from the massive turnout, this is a tribute both to our guest and the subject matter. I’d like to thank the HR Committee for all their work on these very interesting discussions and themes. I would like to acknowledge Peter Reinhardt and Yevgeny Reyzman who are the co-chairmen of the HR Committee. And of course we will be following up on this with the Migration Service in your interests.
Mr. Postavnin, who is Deputy Head of the Foreign Migration Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, has agreed to speak to us today on this issue which has been all over the press since the regulations were issued to basically regulate foreigners in Russia, their entry, their exit, their right to work here.
And I would like to acknowledge the leadership of the Foreign Migration Service under Mr. Romadanovsky and Mr. Postavnin. Mr. Postavnin has been particularly helpful in being accessible to us, to try to resolve issues and work together in our mutual interests to ensure that foreigners are here legally, the government is aware of that, and that barriers are reduced when those barriers are brought to the attention of the migration service.
So again, we are very grateful for Mr. Postavnin to come here. He has a commitment with the government some time later. So we have a certain period of time, and I am going to ask him now to come to the podium and address the issue and then questions and answers. And I am warning you ahead of time I am going to discipline you on the questions because we want to get as many in as we can, and I am going to ask not to have followup questions, at least not from the same person, okay?
I would now like to invite to the podium Mr. Vyacheslav Postavnin. (Applause.)
Postavnin: Thank you, Mr. Somers. Ladies and gentlemen, friends, I am surprised by the number of people who have come here to attend this event. I expected it to be a kind of private event involving only specialists. Indeed I was taken aback a little bit, and I want you to understand it if I take some time to get on with it.
I could see once again how important a migration policy is in our times, in the contemporary world. Migration legislation in any country, if it is changed, always evokes a great deal of interest. And Russia was not an exception.
A few words about what we wanted to do and what objectives we were pursuing by developing and introducing new migration legislation. The main purpose was to balance out labor resources between foreign workers and Russian workers. Organizing an effective counterbalance to illegal migration, which is quite massive. According to our estimates it exceeds 10 million people, and we are second after the
and we may be first .(inaudible)…, and this problem is quite acute. This is the second problem. US
The third problem is what all countries face, I mean countries with more or less developed economies, European and American countries, namely demographic problems and the need to replenish our labor resources. We are interested in attracting foreign labor, primarily skilled labor. It is quite obvious to us that skilled labor, or shall I say specialists, come over here from what we call the far abroad and countries with developed economies, primarily Western Europe and North America.
So in our regulatory acts we made an attempt to create such tools that, on the one hand, would allow us to reduce the number of illegal migrants in Russia, protect the domestic labor market, and on the other hand, bring in as many specialists, workers and managers as possible and of course to create conditions for a good investment climate in our country so that new technologies would come to the country and major economic projects could be implemented.
Another element of our new migration policy is a program for the voluntary resettlement of compatriots. It is based on the creation of new jobs, the development and implementation of big investment and economic projects that can hardly be implemented without large investments, primarily from big foreign companies. This is why we tried to simplify access to our market for this category of specialists.
The main revolutionary step, so to say, in this regard was the law on migration registration. You may probably know that we used to have a registration system based on permits. It was a rather long and complex process and was necessarily related to housing, the place of residence. In the new law we tried to separate housing from registration and give it the nature of notification.
I anticipate your questions about problems and difficulties related to migration registration. We are aware of this problem and we are monitoring the situation. I must explain to you why this happened. Actually we expected this problem in the initial stage. It’s the so-called delayed demand. A large number of migrants, primarily illegal migrants, from the so-called near abroad who come here without visas were not simply waiting for the doors to be open on the 15th and they could come and register by a simplified procedure. This created congestion, sort of, at the entrance to our system. We are trying to solve this problem, we are engaging a large number of our units, offices and divisions. I am confident that these are temporary difficulties.
I must say that the government is helping us. By the way, for you to know that we understand the importance of this matter that affects practically all sections of the population and all citizens who arrive in our country, the government is watching the situation and meets to discuss this issue on a weekly basis. All problems or hitches we see during the implementation of our laws, we understand that they are far from perfect, but we are ready to adjust and correct them.
I think that’s all I wanted to tell you in brief. Let us now try to move on to questions.
Somers: Thank you. Yevgeny Reyzman, co-chair of our HR Committee. Please, come and ask the first question.
Q: As always, I will have a global question. Representatives of our foreign guests are sitting in this room, from the countries of the “far abroad”, as well as the Russians who work with these representatives. In this country one can hardly find any other category of people, including Russians, who expend so much effort on honoring Russian laws, including our immigration laws. The changes that took place recently, last year, regarding immigration policy and work permits, affect above all foreigners from the “near abroad”. My question is of a global nature. Is anything being planned in the immediate or more remote future that may affect our category of foreigners, that is, foreigners from the “far abroad” in terms of facilitating the obtaining of a work permit and dealing with such vital problems as the need to get several work permits if he holds jobs in various entities, even if they are connected with one and the same company here in Russia, whether in its representative office or a subsidiary company. Is anything being planned to do with them in mind in the near future?
Postavnin: I suspected that the question would be asked. Because the new immigration laws applied more to the citizens who have arrived from countries with a visa-free regime. I can tell you more. We have another draft law which applies mainly to people from the far abroad which would make it easier to obtain work permits, lengthen the effective period of the permits. Yes, such legislation is in the pipeline. We have passed a package of documents and you are probably aware of the President’s directives, the priorities have been determined and we largely coped with the task. And just at the last meeting of the government we discussed the continuation of the work on this draft law that you are referring to.
Yes, we are aware that it needs to be done. Now as regards permits to work in two or more places at once. I do not quite see the point of your question, but at least we at the center can issue a permit that is valid on the territories of several subjects of the Federation, and we can describe your position in such a way that you could happily work. But as regards the cumbersome and tiresome procedure of obtaining a work permit, I think it is basically the same as in any other country. It does not take any more time and it is not any more complicated. Nevertheless, we understand that we are interested to have your specialists and your capital and we have developed the “one-stop” principle. It is already operated in some of our regions, at least in the center, that’s for sure. We are promoting it to some more regions.
We have received directives to the effect and we are implementing a huge range of measures in order to simplify this work and make it more pragmatic, to renounce all the unnecessary bureaucratic procedures, meaningless procedures which do nothing but irritate people and, believe me, we understand that they spawn corruption. This is the scourge of our country. We are working on this and the administrative regulations worked out by our staff this year will be introduced as a pilot scheme in Moscow, the Moscow Oblast and St. Petersburg. And our work was slowed down a bit by the huge wave of labor migrants who have arrived from the CIS countries. It may not be all that important for you, but for your information I must mention it so that you could understand our problems.
On the one hand, it is to be welcomed that these people have come out of the shadow, that they feel that laws are beginning to work in our country, laws that they can understand, that they can gain legal status, they can become full-fledged members of society. In this way we provide access to justice, to protection of their rights and dignity. This is important for us if we want to call ourselves a mature society living according to world values. And we had to sort out the huge mass of rightless people, often exploited people. So, we concentrated on this problem. But I can assure you that we are not forgetful of the other tasks, we are pursuing them in parallel. And the administrative rules that are to be adopted will stipulate down to the last minute how much time we should spend on each person or company from Western Europe and America. And it is, I assure you, 5-10 minutes. And during the year Mr. Naryshkin, head of the government’s staff, personally sees to it that the rules are observed. So, I have no doubt that I will solve this task next year if I want to pick my job.
Somers: Other questions?
Q: Vladimir Shapovalov, the office of the company Washington Group International. The company is implementing an international treaty on the territory of Russia. Our office has representatives of the United States, Ukraine and Russia. To legalize ourselves and comply with all the government decrees we have to register ourselves with the migration authorities, I mean the company itself. I have visited several branches and the office on Pokrovka and in one place they tell me that it cannot be done because the head of the representative office holds a visa from the executive body of the Russian Space Agency and it is a business visa and he needs a working visa. On Pokrovka they tell me that representative offices do not have to get themselves registered. And so we cannot properly comply with Russian legislation because we cannot obtain registration ourselves. And every branch has its own requirements. And as a result, they continue imposing fines for untimely registration. Some impose fines, some don’t.
The statement issued last week to the effect that pending the adoption of a political decision Ukrainian citizens are not liable to be fined — the police don’t know about it, they stop people in the streets and continue to fine them. I would like to know if at least the representative office can be registered with your service?
Postavnin: Yes. As regards obtaining registration, you can contact me, you can send a fax. I will take this issue under review. We have a special working group which monitors compliance with current legislation and I would appreciate it if you apprized me of all such things. Yes, we have a lot of problems, especially with the law-enforcers, with the police. And of course there is no denying that there are elements of corruption. Yes, an edict did come out that pending a political decision, Ukrainian citizens should not be fined, but they continue to be fined. The problem is there, we are trying to control it. But I have always said that if we want to defeat this evil, and it does exist, give us concrete facts: who fined whom. Please do it and we will deal with that in a loud manner. Otherwise we will never win. We have to show at least, for the public to see that there are such facts, and we will punish them.
It is my personal view that those humiliating checks of individuals in the streets should be banned. It does not matter whether they come from the near abroad of far abroad. Police should not do this. The presumption of innocence should be observed. Besides, I have not heard of any case when they would seize any terrorist in the street.
There is such a problem and we know it. So, please apply to us. The public should have its say. The laws are not adopted for nothing. We have tried to adequately reflect the feelings and realities existing in our society.
Somers: Next one on the left. Mr. Firestone.
Postavnin: Sorry, this has been the case since the year before last year. I issued relevant instructions. Please apply to me with your problem. The thing is that I have done a lot for that already. Sorry.
Q: First of all, I am a lawyer that works here in Moscow. I am long-term resident of Russia myself, with a temporary permit. I hope I will soon have permanent residence. This is a question about where I think the new regulations that just went into effect have inadvertently made things more complicated and not more simple. Under the new regulations, people who are here on either temporary residence or permanent residence have to register within three days of changing their place of residence.
As I read the law, that does not mean three days of my moving, for instance, changing my apartment. It means that if I go to St. Petersburg to visit friends for the weekend, I have three days to register with the local police there. And if I don’t do that, I am violating the law. Well, that’s not customary, for instance, in America. If one had a Green Card, they would not have to notify the authorities every time they went to another city on a business trip or to visit friends.
And in my opinion, it’s a bit needless because you know where I live. I am registered in a particular apartment. I am just wondering if we have any hope of that being simplified. Thank you.
Postavnin: For those having a temporary residence permit — well, it is not three days, but if you change you place of residence, really you have ten days to notify the authorities of this change.
Q: I am not speaking about the change of my place of residence. Under the new rules, if I go to visit another city, just on a business tour, this is a change of the place of stay, as it is written there. So, even if I go to St. Petersburg for a week, to meet my friends, I have to register. This is what I mean.
Postavnin: Yes, I see, the change of the place of stay, not residence. Yes, there is a problem here. Notifications, registration of migration. Really, we have problems. Let me tell you that during the most recent meeting of the government, we compiled a list of those problems. I will tell you more: there even are problems with those leaving the country. The one who leaves the Russian Federation should notify the employer, stays without documents.
Thank you for this question. Please, if you have questions, if you keep the minutes of the meeting, it would be good for us to get that and we will react to those things.
Q: Peter Jennison (sp?) lives in
Moscow, works in Moscow, goes to for the weekend. Should be register in St. Petersburg or not? We find that this is very similar to written pledge not to leave town. St. Petersburg
Postavnin: Well, there is no need to explain if he goes to meet with his friends.
Q: So, if he goes to meet with friends, there is no need to register. This is what everyone wants to hear from you. For any period? If one goes for a week? No need to register? That is, if they do not change place of residence?
Postavnin: Up to ten days. If one stays there longer —
Q: Then this is required.
Somers: Could we stop please? Please let’s keep quiet. Over here on the right.
Postavnin: Well, let is discuss this. This is a serious issue. In fact, the issue of registration is a bottleneck, as it turned out. And we know this. Our position was: as this is done just by notification — if an individual comes to a hotel, this happens automatically. If one lives in a hotel, one will not face any problem. One hands in the passport and everything happens automatically — we proceeded from the assumption that an individual moves to another city and if he stays there longer than ten days — Well, I understand what you mean. One comes to stay with his friends —
I agree. I will raise this issue and we will start considering this problem. (Laughter.)
Somers: Can I intervene here please for a minute? Could we show a little more respect up here? The man has just said he’ll study the question. Does it not call for laughter?
Postavnin: I can explain why this is different from what Western countries have. The system of registration. The system is arranged in a somewhat different manner. In the US, there is the social security card. Any move related to payment at the bank and elsewhere, an individual is immediately identified as staying at a particular place. You should not tell me that an individual enters the country and stays beyond control.
It is absolutely clear that the terrorist threat exists everywhere, including in the US and in Russia to a great measure. It was an attempt to establish control — not control over foreigners, over citizens. This is only goal of that. Perhaps, this was not an absolutely right move. Given that in the future we are going to have a centralized data bank where all foreign citizens will be registered, we believed that this will also be done automatically, even via the purchase of a ticket we would be able to see where an individual comes. Again, this is not need to control all individuals, but if something happens — well, you understand it — if some acts of terror occur.
So, please, treat this seriously enough. When you just say that it is bad here and it is good there, well, yes, we are at the stage that is incomparable with the US. They are tenth-year students and we are third-year students. We are going along this path and have done this in an accelerated manner. Mistakes are inevitable. Therefore, please treat this with understanding.
You should understand the main thing. It is that we are ready to take this into account and look for solutions that would be acceptable for everyone. And those decisions will be made quickly.
Somers: We have a question on the right please.
Q: Mr. Postavnin, first of all I think everybody here very much appreciates your coming to this meeting and answering these very very difficult questions. It’s very very good of you and —
Somers: Please, thanks for your support.
Q: I know this is difficult for him. Everybody has got, I’ve got a little bit of a difficult question, everybody has got his difficult question. So really I really want to express our gratitude that, AmCham’s gratitude and the members, for your coming here and answering these difficult questions. I think that that’s something that is just unheard of in a lot of areas. You are addressing these things. So, I think we should him a round of applause first for coming in and doing this. (Applause.)
Somers: Another top question.
Q: Okay. Now I’ve got a little bit of a practical question. As I understand the new registration rules, a foreigner having a business visa must register, have his landlord go to the local migration service and register his visa within three days upon entering the country. My first question is: what documents — well, it’s one question — What documents does the landlord need to take to the migration service and are all the migration services in Moscow that are enlisted, are they all aware of the issues and what the procedures are so that when my landlord, for example, goes to the migration service, will understand what needs to be done. And also, you may not be able to answer these questions, where can we find out some details and terms of the registration process? Thank you again very very much for coming here to AmCham.
Postavnin: Thank you very much for understanding and support. It is very important for me to know that you understand our condition. I think all these contacts should continue. Where else can we learn about your problems if not from you? This is important for me.
Now to the point. We have two forms of registration. Migration registration at the place of temporary residence is the simplest form that does not require any documents except a passport, an application and a migration card. That’s all. You will get it all stamped at the post office. It will take as much time as you have to stand in line. The other form is registration at the place of residence. If you buy a flat, you are required to produce documents confirming that this is your property. So it is up to you to choose the form.
The latter is a bit more complex procedure. If you rent a flat, all you need to do is to come to the migration office or a post office with the owner of the flat, fill out a form and mail it, and no one can deny you registration if your passport is valid, and I have no doubt that it is.
Q: Passport also? Do we send? Or just a form?
Postavnin: No. You only need to show your passport. You don’t have to send it at a post office or a police station.
Q: Henry Rothstein. Thank you for coming to answer our questions. I have a somewhat technical question. For an office or a branch of a foreign company in
to file an application for work visas for its foreign employees who have already obtained work permits, they have to apply to accrediting agencies, and these accrediting agencies have to file these appeals for them. But very often accrediting agencies say, you know, we have accredited five of your people and you have received work permits for 25 people and we think we will apply for only five people to come over here for work visas but we will not let you do it for 25 people. In other words, it’s an artificial barrier that is not provided for in legislation because the law allows foreign offices to file these appeals and invite persons who have already received work permit. Will anything change in this regard in the near future? Russia
Postavnin: We have dealt with this problem many times. By the way many of the problems were resolved thanks to Mr. Somers. Let me tell you that I support certain liberalization for the offices of such major companies, and we are addressing these problems. But unfortunately there is another point of view. I have said that we have a draft law that will solve this problem, it’s in the pipe now and I hope it will solve this problem once and for all.
Since I am in charge in labor migration in the Federal Migration Service, I would like to advise you to send your documents to me because as I understand we are talking about Moscow-based firms. Send your documents over and we will consider them. But I assure you, there will be no artificial restrictions or barriers.
Q: Yekaterina Mironova, Philip Morris. You know, we all rejoiced when it was reported a person could simply come and register, and there are no problems with hotels. But if a person rents a flat, he faces big problems. First of all, post offices refuse to receive these notices. I understand that they are not in your jurisdiction, but how can this interagency feudal war be stopped? As for our attempts to file documents at the regional department on our own, in particular we try to file documents at the Tverskoye department, they requested the original of the passport, the migration card, the work permit, a letter from the company, a letter from the DEZ, and that the employee and the owner of the flat should be present in person.
Postavnin: Thank you very much. I know this is true. And I ask you to report these facts to me. I address these issues at our meetings all the time. Just yesterday I prepared a letter of instructions. In order to rule out situations where officials request documents that are not provided for in the law. We will fight this.
Q: What is your fax number? Postavnin: I can give you my telephone number, I don’t remember the fax number. The secretary will give it to you. The number is 698-07-86. I will be very grateful. I hold meetings every week and I will be very grateful. I will demand that every case be investigated, even if it’s not in
Q: I have a practical question. Your promise that the procedure will be simplified reminds me of Chernomyrdin’s words: we wanted to do it as best we can but it turned out as always. While before I simply took the documents of my boss and went to my local DEZ and registered him by paying a certain sum for six months of his stay through a firm in Pokrovka Street, which is related to the Migration Service, now when I go to this firm — they send me over the DEZ to the passport registration office and from their to this firm. The people who work there, it’s their job, they are professionals, but they couldn’t get anything done for three days. They say, We don’t know anything ourselves. We run from office to office in total confusion. I had to use connections to do it. Now he is away from the country and will come again shortly. He is married and has three children. The five of them have been living in
for 10 years. And now each time they fly to Moscow Miamior , I have to run with their passports and get the papers stamped, and if they fail to meet the deadline twice, they will have to pay a fine of 850,000. Israel
Moreover, companies that were happy to make money in this before say now, We don’t want to do it because if you don’t bring the stamped paper back to us we will be penalized. You have simply cornered yourself and us too. Why did you do it? Whose idea was that?
Now tell me what I should do. He has arrived today. I will fill out a card and where should I take it? Should I repeat the same ordeal again? Don’t think that everything is so simple. The lady who spoke before me is right, they will send you on a wild goose chase at the post office. Or should I go to Putin?
Postavnin: You have so talented people.
Q: Talented in a different way. I understand talent differently.
Postavnin: Let me repeat once again that registration at the place of temporary residence requires a passport, an application, a migration card, and a state fee. Nothing else. I see no problems. If workers at a post office — I see, I see what the problem is and I thank you for raising these questions. I will pass them over to the leadership of the Ministry of Communications.
You are right, there were intermediary firms that did this work for a certain reward. In other words, they bypassed the procedures. Your firm may have the money to solve the problem. But most people, migrants who number 10 million, are very poor people and they cannot afford the services of middleman firms. As a result, they became illegals with all the consequence that entails. Yes, in this way we have deprived a whole group of bureaucrats of the possibility to take bribes. Yes, there is some resistance. Actually, there is nothing complex about this procedure.
Q: A practical question. Until last Friday, the companies that were registered at the Federal Migration Service for Moscow at 42 Pokrovka Street could register their staff by producing the registration card and the other documents (notification, passport and so on) as members of that organization. The law says that the host organization can be a legal entity. But beginning from last Friday, if you come to 42 Pokrovka on behalf of the organization and produce the registration card, you will not get registration. And the requirement is that the owner of the flat should show up in person to be the host party. Only working visas are accepted and registered from organizations. All the other visas — if a company employs, let us say, 100 people — and 40 people are invited for negotiations on business visas, then 40 owners of flats should come to 42 Pokrovka and get them registered. Pokrovka is the best case because in a district branch, you will never get passed the Uzbeks, Tajiks who crowd the place, it is impossible even to enter the district office. What can companies do if they are registered themselves to get their employees registered?
Postavnin: It belongs to the same category of questions as previous ones, it is about registration and migration registration. I repeat, we are aware of the problems that you are telling me about. We have been instructed by the government to eliminate these problems which became evident in the process of enforcing these laws. And I promise that these problems will be solved in the near future.
Q: We offer apartments on lease to foreigners. And many questions arise about the host party. That is, who is the host party in this case? Most of our contracts are with companies and the companies then themselves distribute their employees between apartments. But forms in which companies are indicated as host parties are rejected and they demand that these forms be signed by Rosinka which is the owner of the apartments. However, the law does not say it in quite these terms. And we would like to get some clarity.
Postavnin: I understand your question. The law does say in black and white that the host party can be a foreign legal entity. If you have problems, then you can sue these people. This is just a violation of the law.
Somers: Question over here.
Fellowships. Thank you again for coming today. I have a very short and quick question. Thank you again for coming here today. Under the 2004 binational agreement between Centerof International Russiaand , Ukrainians are allowed 90 days to be in the country before registration. The Ukrainian news services are now reporting that under the new law they are affected and the days have been reduced from 90 to 3. Could you, please, clear that up? Ukraine
Postavnin: Yes, the situation with
was curious, though perfectly predictable. Yes, there was a period when they were in a better position than the citizens of Ukraine . That was a discrepancy. Now the problem is being tackled at the diplomatic level because there is a sense that migration registration is a different institution because while registration has remained, the agreement between Russia Russiaand applies only to registration. In short, opinions are divided, intensive consultations are underway at the diplomatic level and a decision is to be arrived soon as to whether to leave the 90 days as before or put them on the same footing as other citizens. Ukraine
. . .
Q: Irina Ladinskaya (?) of the company Cargill. I have a question about the host party. Who is it? For example, a person got an invitation from a company which is in
. He comes to Moscow or perhaps went on to some other cities on business. And we have been confronted with a problem. In the regions, and I am talking about Yefremov, Tula Oblast and the city of Krasnodar, they do not recognize the law at all. They wouldn’t hear about it. They say they still have the registration procedure and they will continue to enforce it. What should we do? For example, there are still cities in which there are no hotels. We have 16 legal entities and we have production facilities in various Russian cities. For example, a person comes to a city and is lodged at our official apartment. It is rented by the company. Who is the host party in this case? Moscow
Postavnin: The city of
, what oblast? Yefremov
Oblast. You know, we even have a notification with a stamp of the Tula Oblast FMS. And notification has been turned down. Tula
Postavnin: How many such incidents in the Tula Oblast can you report?
Q: Well, several.
Postavnin: Okay, I invite the head of the Tula Oblast to my FMS office and I invite you and we will try to settle these issues.
Q: Wonderful, thank you. So, who is the host party?
Postavnin: It’s all in the law, it’s simple.
Q: No, the FMS site in
says that any legal entity any citizen can be the host party. Does it mean that the person who has come with a visa of an organization goes to another city to our partner company — can that other company, a totally different company, which is not indicated in the visa, act as a host party? Moscow
Postavnin: It will be the host party in that particular city. And there is an alternative. Even if they are intransigent, as you say, the firm can send a letter, carried by the individual in question, asking that he be registered at a certain address. The host firm. And that would be enough. Remember, a letter from the host firm. The person can come there by himself, but he should produce a written request of the host party.
Voice: They don’t accept such letters.
Postavnin: I am telling you how it should be according to the law. But laws are broken everywhere, unfortunately.
Voice: They say no, only the owner of the apartment.
Postavnin: Well, you know what I mean.
. . .
Q: Dmitry Filippov, Diamedika. A question about medical examination. Are commercial health institutions allowed to carry out such procedures for persons who apply for residence permits and so on?
Postavnin: This is a different topic. As for migration registration, this topic is most interesting to me as raising the biggest number of problems. I understand this. If you submit your questions in writing, I will be grateful to you. Actually this will contribute to the monitoring of the situation. Based on your questions, we will correct our regulatory acts and bylaws.
In response to your question, this is yet another problem even though Moscow has identified 10 health institutions where a person can take blood tests. A question is now being decided at a high level because the quality of health services in your countries is often as good as that in Russia, and if there is a risk of infection, it certainly not comes from your countries. Besides, the legal culture and law abidance is higher. So I think it would be appropriate if we accept your documents on of one’s health status. We only need to decide on the form. There is a list of such health institutions, but if they do not cope with the flow, we will use our authority to enlarge the list, at least for the category of people you represent here.
Somers: A question right here.
Q: Rexam, Moscow office. Can registration be denied on formal grounds? For example if some inaccuracies were found in the form or if some corrections were made?
Postavnin: No. I am telling you once again, no. Fight for your rights after all.
Q: How? If we come over here and we are told that you have corrected one letter in the form and you will be denied registration.
Postavnin: You have a good command of the Russian language.
Q: And a question about registration through a post office. Our enterprise is registered in the region. Can we register foreigners arriving here on business visas through a post office in Moscow?
Postavnin: I have to think about this and look it up in the law.
Q: We have some problems. People at the post office deny registration and say we do not know addresses —
Postavnin: I don’t know all of it by heart but if I am not mistaken it says a local post office. I repeat again they should not deny registration to you.
Q: Hello, my name is Daniel Klein, I am with a law firm. We specialize in immigration law. And basically the question that I have is that we have lot of our clients give us questions about this new card that everybody is given when they register, an this is in place, I believe, a stamp that goes in the passport and a stamp that goes in the immigration card. And the question we are getting repeatedly, and our research has really revealed absolute confusion both within the law and also in various invitation agencies and so forth, nobody seems to really know what to do with these cards. When we leave the city of Moscow, do we give them back to the invitation agency, do we keep them, shall we keep a photo copy of it and give the original or vice versa? What are we supposed to do with these cards when we leave the city or leave the country? And also for what period, if we leave the city for two days, we have to give it back? Or is it three days? Or is it just as you said ten days, is it ten business days? Can you give some clarification on what we do with these cards?
Postavnin: If I understood you correctly, you were talking about a notification with a registration stamp. If you leave for more than three days and have no plans to come back, the receiving side has to give it back.
. . .
Q: Lilia Kuzova (inaudible)… Russian government resolution 783 of December 22 says that the employer submits an application for labor to authorized agencies every year before May 1. Slightly more than two months are left before the deadline, but no one knows a thing about this. Could you brief us, please.
Postavnin: The document you mentioned was prepared by the Ministry of Health and Social Development which is also a party to the migration process. Since a large package of documents was adopted, there were some flaws. And then I must say there has been a delay in the decision on quotas to regions. At first the idea was to abolish the practice of applications but then gave it up. Perhaps not all know about this in regions. Frankly speaking, I was not in charge of this work. But I can assure you officially that Mikhail Zurabov — we coordinate our work on a weekly basis, summon the heads and representatives of regional administrations to brief them and to hear their reports. Unfortunately all kinds of things happen in our world. Someone claims to have seen Yeti.
Somers: A question in the back.
Q: Chuck Bolin, Alina Consulting Group(?). I want to clarify something. I understand that there is migration reporting and there is migration registration. As far as I understand many foreigners thought that migration registration would replace registration. If for example, I arrive here on a business visa from my employer and live in a rented place. But under the new law we have to do migration reporting in a different place and have to undergo registration at the place of residence anyway. Is this right?
Postavnin: You are not right. As I said, there are two different procedures: registration and migration registration. Registration is for those who owns residential property here or who permanent lives in Russia, I mean foreigners. Migration registration is for those who stay in Russia temporarily. It requires a minimal number of documents. If you live in a rented apartment, the receiving side will be your lessee.
Q: Irina Paisova, a branch of the nonprofit corporation ACTI Worker (sp.), US. A question from the director of our branch. Before the new law on NGOs became effective, our branch was accredited by the State Registration Chamber of the Justice Ministry. Now the new law is in effect and we have been put in the register of NGOs of the Federal Registration Service, and we have thus forfeited the right to accredit our director at the State Registration Chamber. In order to get him a new visa we used the services of the Russian organization Investproekt. They gave him an invitation and he arrived here on a business visa and has to leave Russia in six months in order to come back in again and be registered. How can this question be solved for the directors or representatives of branches and offices?
Postavnin: This is the NGO law. It has caused a controversial reaction in society but I would not link it to migration policy. That’s something different. Unless the issue of the legal status of these organizations is decided, this is a question for them, not for me.
Q: Where should he be registered?
Postavnin: I understand of course that I am here to speak for the whole country.
Q: Thank you for your time and effort to explain things to us. I have several questions. I understand that foreign employees have to obtain work permits if they become employees of a Russian legal entity. In other words, it’s a measure to protect the Russian labor market. But should accredited representatives of foreign firms working here obtain work permits?
And my second question. I understand that the legal status of foreign citizens in Russia is regulated by a large number of laws, for example 110-FZ, 109-FZ, 115-FZ, 114-FZ, government resolutions 335 and 333. And I have just heard that there is government resolution 783. I have also heard that the Code of Administrative Offenses also regulates visa issues. Maybe all these things should be put together in some sort of memo for foreigners who come to Russia for business and so on.
And a third question. I would like you to distinguish between the duties of the receiving side and the inviting side and their responsibilities and penalties to be applied to both for violations of the law.
Postavnin: According to the law, both the receiving and the inviting sides bear the same responsibility. On your second question, I agree with you. Two brochures have already been made, and I think they are quite good. They are thin and I keep them on my desk for reference. I think we should copy them if there is such a need.
On your first question, about what permits, we are moving in circles. As I said, legislation is not quite clear about representative offices. My position is that accredited personnel do not have to obtain work permits, but in some places this is required. And lawyers interpret this differently too. The draft law we are preparing, I am saying this once again, says absolutely clearly that this will not be required.
Somers: I know we have many more questions but unfortunately we are way over time. Mr. Postavnin has an obligation with the government. So Mr. Postavnin, I want to thank you very much for your time here.
Postavnin: Thank you very much and I am sorry if I did not answer some of your questions. (Applause.)Post Views: 127
Exact Russian military casualties in the Chechen War have been hard to pin down. The problem is that the Defense Ministry is known to keep such figures guarded from public scrutiny. According to Mosnews, the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces claims that 3,826 troops were killed, 17,892 were wounded, and 1,906 were missing in action in the first Chechen War, 1994-1996. For the second war, 1999-present, casualty figures are “unclear and often contradictory.” The only official figure given was by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in December of 2002. He reported that total losses of federal forces were 4,572 killed and 15,549 wounded. No official update has since been given.
But even the above figures have been met with scrutiny. The human rights groups Prague Watchdog and the Union Committee of Soldiers Mothers of Russia have both raised skepticism about the reliability of the Kremlin’s figures.
Compounded with the Russian’s lack of transparency in casualty figures, is the fact that more than one Russian and Chechen security forces operate in the region. In addition to the standard military, police, FSB, and Ministry of the Interior (MVD) troops as well as Kadyrov’s squads also engage in what is now called “anti-terrorist activities.”
According to a short article by Vladimir Mukhin in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the chaotic and deadly situation in Chechnya continues. Nothing says this more than the high casualty rate Russian MVD forces are still sustaining in the region. Based on Russian Defense Ministry figures published last week, Mukhin writes,
In July of this year six servicemen were killed in the course of fulfilling their service duties in Chechnya. And it is noted that all of them fell in battle. These were members of the elite spetsnaz (special-purpose forces) group that was fired on at almost point-blank range on the highway near the settlement of Avtury on 4 July. A further 15 soldiers and offices were wounded during that battle. According to ‘s sources in the military department, a subunit of troop unit No. 54607 from near Tambov fell into an ambush. It is not ruled out that the emergency visit by Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov to Chechnya on 11 July was prompted by this tragedy.
Russian Federation Minister of Internal Affairs Rashid Nurgaliyev is also concerned about losses among his subordinates. In Makhachkala the minister drew attention to the fact that about 200 police officers and Internal Troops servicemen have been killed in Dagestan in the past four years. In 2005 alone there were more than 100 attacks, as a result of which 60 personnel were killed and more than 120 wounded. According to Nurgaliyev, since the beginning of this year 22 police officers have been killed and 59 wounded as a result of terrorist acts in Pakistan.
The statistics show that one police officer or serviceman is killed in the North Caucasus nearly every day. Although there are as yet no complete figures on this. Only the Russian Federation Defense Ministry continues to give reports of losses on a monthly basis. In all, since the beginning of 2006 42 Defense Ministry servicemen have been killed in Chechnya, and one is missing. From the beginning of the counterterrorist operation in Chechnya (1999) to the present day, 3,588 Russian Federation Defense Ministry servicemen have been killed in the course of their service duties and 31 have gone missing. The losses in MVD structures are as follows: In 2004-2005 236 people were killed from among representatives of the law-enforcement agencies, and 279 from among servicemen of the Russian Federation MVD Internal Troops. As of today there are no official figures on losses among police officers and Internal Troops servicemen in Chechnya in 2006.
All of this comes with another article written by Mukhin on how the idea of a Russian contract army is failing. Mukhin writes,
It follows from the documents drawn up in the General Staff that at the present time the Armed Forces are suffering from the massive breaking of military-service contracts by soldiers and sergeants. Thus, according to the chief of a group of analytical subunits in the Main Organization and Mobilization Directorate (GOMU) of the General Staff, Col Yevgeniy Shabalin, in 2005 12.9 percent of servicemen who became professionals prematurely stopped military service (that is, they broke their contracts). In the case of the 42nd Motorized-Rifle Division stationed in Chechnya and operating, as is known, under combat conditions, almost every third professional broke his contract early.
The RF Armed Forces expects a similar trend in 2006, although in smaller proportions. This does not even worry Col Shabalin so much as the fact that a significant number of servicemen who signed a first contract do not intend to extend it.
According to the RF Defense Ministry’s Sociological Center, only 15-19 percent of professionals of the RF Armed Forces are ready to sign a second contract. Thus, over the next 2-3 years, the troops may lose the backbone of professionals who signed contracts in 2004-2005 (the document is signed for three years) and now constitute the foundation of the so-called permanent-combat-readiness forces. It is understandable that this will affect the quality parameters of the country’s entire national defense, since the significant shortfall caused by leaving professionals will have to be restored by other people recruited from civilian life and from among other young soldiers. They will have to be trained again, subunits will have to be coordinated, etc. And this, of course, will cost money, since almost half the army will have to be retrained in accordance with the professional programs. According to the information of GOMU chief Col-Gen Vasiliy Smirnov, it is planned to have 40-45 percent contract soldiers in table-of-organization positions in the Armed Forces in 2008. Here the professional sergeant layer is to exceed 50 percent.
Of course, the Defense Ministry is undertaking measures to change the situation: it is working harder with military commissariats and on the quality of contractor recruitment, increasing moral incentives, and intensifying indoctrination work in the troops. However, this is plainly far from enough, since the motivation of professionals for the work, as the polls of military sociologists show, depends primarily on the material incentives determined by the state. Some 29 percent of the professionals surveyed did not want to continue military service because of the absence of conditions for rest and leisure (clubs, sports facilities, etc). In the past the Finance Ministry has significantly cut expenditures for these items, although the government has approved a federal targeted program (FPTs) for changing the troops over to a professional basis. Some 27 percent of the contractors intend to leave the Army because of low pay. This is completely explainable. On average, a professional receives very little even by average-Russian standards — from 7,000 to 9,000 rubles. True, this figure amounts to 15,000 rubles in Chechnya. But even this money is not a sufficient incentive today. Next year the 42nd Division in Chechnya expects a mass exodus of contractors. Some 26 percent of those polled explained their upcoming departure from the army by the failure to solve the housing problem. This is again connected with the federal targeted program: the government skimped on money for small-family construction, and the majority of contractors now live in refurbished barracks.
It appears that the Russian military’s own failures at improving soldiers living conditions and compensation has killed any hope of establishing a professional army in Russia for the foreseeable future.All translations of Russian text are from Johnson’s Russia ListPost Views: 769