Russian Human Rights Activist Suspected of Illegally Registering Foreigners in Private Flat
Khamroyev, also the head of the Yordam (Help) organization and known for his activities to protect the rights of people from Central Asia, registered two people - a citizen of Kyrgyzstan, Valisher Kadirov, and a Tajik citizen, Firuz Rustamov, in his flat in Bibirevo district of Moscow. Khamroyev extended their registration in January 2018, the Memorial says.
According to the indictment, Khamroyev acted "out of personal interest" and knew that they would not live at the registered address. He thus "prevented the local department of the Federal Migration Service (...) to monitor the compliance with registration rules by the abovementioned citizens and their movement on the territory of the Russian Federation."
"I registered people in my flat who really needed help and wanted to be legally in Russia, but I did not take any money from them," Khamroyev said. "For example, Valisher fled his homeland after the events of 2010 in Osh, he was detained in Russia and nearly extradited in 2012. But he was released in 2013 after an appeal to the ECHR and the Civic Assistance Committee is dealing with his case. He lived with me from time to time since 2016, and then moved out.”
"The authorities demand that migrants be registered and punish those who register them at the same time. It turns out to be a vicious circle. The authorities seem to intentionally make the lawful life of migrants from Central Asia impossible in Russia."
In recent years, Khamroyev says that he was under constant pressure from the authorities. In 2016 and 2017, FSB officers searched his flat. The prosecutor's office is currently considering Khamroyev's subsequent complaint about improper prosecution.
Earlier, in 2010, Khamroyev was assaulted by an FSB officer and unknown people ambushed and attacked him in 2011. None of these incidents have been investigated. There were stories on TV that slandered Khamroyev using secretly shot footage.
Then, on February 12, he had a call from a local police officer asking if he could provide the phone numbers of people from Central Asia registered to his flat, allegedly to check whether they left for Syria; Khamroyev handed the numbers of two – Kadirov and Rustamov – over to the officer. These two then became witnesses in a criminal case against Khamroyev himself. They almost immediately said that they did not live in a flat with him and on the same day, a criminal suit against him was registered with the Bibirevo district police.
The next day the local police officer asked Khamroyev to come to the station where he was informed of the criminal case against him and invited to give testimony to investigators on the morning of February 14.
Before that, the police officer mentioned contacts between the police and FSB in the Khamroyev case. On February 14, Bakhrom then spent the day at the police station with his lawyer, Timofei Shirokov, where he was interrogated as a suspect. The next day, he had a confrontation with Kadirov, one of the witnesses against him.
"This case is as ridiculous as the well-known case of Tatyana Kotlyar, the human rights activist from Obninsk. Only the scope is different: two people, not two thousand people. At the same time, the essence of the accusation is just as ridiculous," Svetlana Gannushkina, Head of the Migration and Rights Network of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, says. "The state requires an asylum seeker to have a registration and a so-called 'hosting party.' But this is possible only if there is someone who invited a migrant to work or visit. A refugee is not invited and if the state requires them to have a registration, it must provide the refugees with an address under which they can register and – even better – to live there. Then you can demand him to always be ready to contact the state authorities through this address, which is the entire purpose for the registration in the first place. But there is no such service. Therefore, asylum-seekers, participants of the State Program on Voluntary Resettlement of Compatriots to Russia and forced migrants are forced to register with 'kind people' - unselfish people like Kotlyar and Khamroyev, or those who turn this registration into business."
According to the activist, there would be no need for the law on which Bakhrom Khamroyev is going to be judged, (widely known as the law on "rubber flats") if the state did not make the realization of the person's right to asylum and other rights contingent on proper registration.
"But it just so happens that you do not solve problems in our country - you fight with them. In this struggle, those suffer who try to compensate the shortcomings of the legislation and help people overcome them," Gannushkina noted.
"It's not about 'rubber apartments,'" says Vitaly Ponomarev who is representing the Memorial Human Right Centre. "The charge is only an excuse for punishing a human rights defender known for his active position to protect refugees from Central Asia who are threatened with a forced return home involving Russian special services."