This is Part II of the human interest story about Dionis Petrov and his family.
When last we left off, the Ukrainian blogger and dairy farmer from the Poltava region, has been living with his family in Crimea for a full year, unable to legalize his status as a migrant worker and/or political refugee.
The Federal Migration Service (FMS) and the local Crimean branch of the FMS have been tossing him back and forth like a football, with the famous “Russian red tape” frustrating everybody.
Why weren’t you able to legalize yourself in Crimea?
I wrote letters to various agencies, explaining my situation. Once I was called into the Crimean branch of the FMS. They told me very politely that my chances of receiving a РВП (Разрешение на Временное Проживание – Permit for Temporary Residence) were almost null. A federal commission had to look at it, and there was a long line.
We don’t have what would be needed to legalize ourselves outside of the quotas – neither myself nor my wife has direct relatives in Russia. Out in the (remote Russian) regions, we could likely obtain a status because of the quotas, but in Crimea this is impossible. [yalensis: Russian government WANT hard-working migrants to move out to the boondocks to help develop these regions – they don’t really need more people in Crimea.] Not to mention that Crimea is already chock full of “divided families”. For example, I have a friend from Luhansk whose wife and mother-in-law are both Crimean residents, the mother-in-law received (Russian) citizenship, her daughter moved in with her, and so for the likes of my friend from Luhansk [the husband of the daughter who moved in with her mother], there is a quota; and in essence that is the only way to get an official status to live in Crimea. In other words, there IS a quota, but it is for people such as that. To get yourself into the quota, I guess you have to think about giving a bribe or something like that.
At that point, I thought about moving to a neighboring region, like Krasnodar, where the quotas are more reasonable. So we went to visit some friends of ours who had moved from Petersburg to live in the countryside. We registered there and applied for temporary refugee status.
Why not register for a visa? Isn’t it your goal to seek Russian citizenship?
To receive a РВП you have to take tests in (Russian) history and language, after which you have to pay for a full medical exam, and all of this costs 15,000 – 20,000 rubles per person! There are five people in my family. And even if your application is refused, they don’t refund the money. On the other hand, I can prove a motive for my application for temporary refuge. All I have to do is show them my blogposts, and they will see that it is too dangerous for me to return to the Ukraine.
So, I wrote an appeal in the city of Krymsk, in Krasdonar region. And the FMS wrote back to me: “We have an order only to grant temporary refugee status to refugees from Donetsk and Luhansk. Your appeal will most likely be rejected.” I wrote the appeal all the same. Some (female) bureaucrat from the FMS notified me about the status of my application, and then started to threaten me with deportation. “If your appeal is refused, which it most likely will be, and you have not left the country within the designated time, then you will be detained and deported.”
And at the same time letting us know that we are not allowed to leave the borders of the Krymsk area! Which also contradicted her instructions to appear for interviews in Novorossiysk! Not only that, but we had left our children’s belongings behind in Crimea. I called the (FMS) hotline to ask if there really was such a limitation [about having to stay in town]. They said not really, it was all up to the individual inspector. My head was just spinning from all of this!
Prior to this, some of our friends from Kiev had already moved to Khanty-Mansiysk. So we thought that with time the “Fellow Countrymen” program [Соотечественник] would allow us to settle in any part of Russia. We had already gotten a positive signal from the (Russian Orthodox) Eparchy there, who let us know that we would be welcomed. We wrote a letter to Metropolitan Paul, and he wrote back: “Please come.”
That, in fact, had been our intention, we just didn’t plan to move there quite so soon. (Our baby) Luka had been born in the summer, and he was barely three months old. However, after being frightened by this (female) bureaucrat of the Krymsk branch of FMS, we decided to speed up our plans to move to Khanty-Mansiysk. I wrote back to the FMS asking them to belay my application for temporary refuge, in connection with the fact that we were leaving for another region. And then we left.
Moreover, in some other offices of that very same FMS we had been advised to move to a different region, in accordance with that “Fellow Countrymen” program. And they had also advised us to simultaneously submit an application for temporary refuge, while simultaneously resettling in the regions. [yalensis: In other words, try to cover all possible angles!]
You’re saying that different offices of the FMS gave you different advice?
Yes! Every office has its own approach. And by the way, in Krymsk we had to pay for our medical inspection, but when we arrived in Khanty-Mansiysk, the local migration service provided us with free medical inspection. Different rules within the same migration service. When we flew into Khanty-Mansiysk, there were still a few days remaining on our visa. I walked into the city office of the FMS, and once again the “football game” started. Again the familiar tune: “We cannot accept your application, because you are not from Luhansk or Donetsk.”
[to be continued]