Legal advice for people coming to G8 protest actions in Russia

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According to law, a foreign citizen, coming to Russia for a period of more than 3 days, should register during 3 days. In case of moving from a location to another, a foreign citizen should register during three WORKING DAYS from arrival to the new place from the previous one. For a registration, you should pass authorities your passport (or equivalent document) and migration card which you filled in the border. Do not loose your card – and do not forget to check in the border that authorities put a stamp to your migration card! Many tourist agencies offer you registration only for days you make a booking in hotel or hostel they offer for you. In case you do not want to pay for this hotel, ask if they have other alternatives, and if not, ask from another agency. Unless you have a place to stay in St. Petersburg, staying in a hotel or a hostel would be a good alternative, since for security reasons there will not be common camping for protesters in St. Petersburg. Legal group will also be looking for independent companies who make registration without booking in a hotel - contact us to know if we found something that might be of use for you. It is also not that hard to find such companies on your own while here. Last year, it was still possible to have a registration for a period of one month with 20 dollars without booking in a hotel, we do not know yet what will be the situation next summer, but we expect that it will still be much more cheaper than booking a room in a hotel.

If you are only coming for the protests for 3 days or less, it does not make any sense to register at all. If you come to week of build-up actions in Moscow, you may register in Moscow, and then move to St. Petersburg, staying there less than 3 working days - in this case you must keep a ticket so that you may prove that you have been in the city less than 3 working days. Making a registration in St. Petersburg during summit may be pretty cumbersome.

Border guards did not used to care about lack of registration when you are leaving, so few years ago it was only a problem if you were arrested or randomly controlled in the streets. But lately border guards have activated control efforts, mostly to extract bribes from unregistered guests. Chances to get into trouble for a lack of registration are higher in airports than in ground borders. Usual bribe is 500 rubles (19 dollars), whereas fine for a foreigner for a lack of registration according to law is 1000-1500 rubles (37-56 dollars). But in case you had not registration when leaving the country, do not pay bribe too eagerly, or border guards may try to get some more.

Addresses for registration

1) Большой Каретный переулок, 6, офис 5 (Bolshoi Karetnyy pereulok 6, Apt 5), Годзиллас отель (Godzillas hostel), м.Цветной бульвар (metro Tsvetnoi bulvar), tel. 299-42-23

2) Тревел мастер (Travel Master), ул. Садовническая, 5, офис 4-13, тел. 777-12-37, Работает в рабочие дни с 10 до 19 ч. (open time until 10 am to 7 pm).


Let us suppose you happened to be in a spot of an action, which was not agreed with the authorities, or police decided that your behavior was "disturbing public order" and you were arrested. What to do?

First of all, do not panic, there is no reason to worry. In vast majority of cases, you will loose nothing but time. At second, do not insult cops, but demand them firmly to respect your rights. Law only requires you to submit to legal demands of the police, but not to any other demands. This is a summary of your rights, and some recommendations from us.

1. When talking to you, police officer should present himself, show his/her documents and announce reason of your arrest. In case of an action that was not agreed by authorities ("nesankcionirovannaya akciya"), police should announce that action is not agreed by authorities and ask people to disperse. As long as they do not do this, you have a right to stay in place. It is rather likely, that in case you refuse to follow police, they will begin pushing you to police car. You may show passive resistance (sit to ground, do not move, grab hand of a friend), in which case you may be given an additional misdemeanour charge of "refusal to fulfill legal orders of police", which you may question in court, as orders of police were not legal. These charges may result a short jail arrest of up to 15 days, but in vast majority of the cases court only gives you a fine. In case you choose to resist violently, you may be given felony charges.

2. If you are taken to a police station, officers have a right to keep you there for three hours, although this norm is often violated. Police should make either "minutes of delivery" ("protokol o dostavlenii") (if they just want to establish your identity), or "minutes of arrest" ("protokol o zaderzhanii") and "minutes of misdemeanour" ("protokol ob administrativnom pravonarushenii"), in case you are accused of having committed one. In case some property of yours was taken away, they should also make "minutes of requisitioning" ("protokol ob izyatii")

3. In case you were arrested, police should announce your location to your family members upon your request and give you a possibility to use an attorney. You have also a right to read all minutes and transcriptions, to write explanations with your own hands to respective sections (or a separate additional list) of the minutes, to which you may include information on conditions of arrest, illegal actions by police officers and so on. It is important to write to minutes if before arrest you were not asked to leave spot of action, and if you were threatened, verbally abused or beaten up during the arrest.

4. You have a right to refuse from giving any testimony, by referring to 51st article of the Constitution of the Russian Federation ("Nobody should give testimony against himself or his close relatives..."). In this case you have a chance to consult an attorney before giving testimony in court. This is what human rights activists recommend. You may include notion on illegal actions of police to minutes even if you declined from giving any testimony. In case you were beaten up during arrest, visit clinic immediately when you are free in order to have a proof on paper to be used against police later on.

5. In any moment of the process, you may ask participation of your public defender or an attorney. A foreign citizen has a right to have a translator during interrogations and in the court, and also to have police to contact consulate of his country and announce arrest.

6. Take care that each point of the minutes which relates to your case was filled correctly. You have right not to announce your place of work and studies. Carefully read any documents before subscribing them. It is recommend to draw line to all fields of the minutes that were not filled. Try to receive copies of minutes on the spot, they may be of use when complaining about actions of police officers. You have a right to receive copies of all minutes.

7. Police officers have not right to take your passport. If they try to keep your passport as a deposit to have you appear in a court later, make a protest. Refuse to leave police station until you are given back your passport, point out that it is illegal to take away your passport.

8. In case police refuses all your demands to follow law, point out clearly and peacefully that you are not make all this fuss just for the sake of it, but in case police keeps taking illegal actions, you have no other way but to submit a complaint to prosecutor. You may demand to talk to "station master" ("dezhurniy po otdelenie"), who is responsible for everything that takes place in the police station, and make same note to him as well. Where an average police officer may hide his name, it is no any trouble for a prosecutor to find out the station master.

9. If you are not taken to court immediately after finishing with the minutes, most likely you will be asked to sign "obligation to show up in court" ("obyazatelstvo o yavke"). You may sign this document without hesitation, as it is not a subpoena and has no any legally binding force whatsoever - you may not be punished for not fulfilling it. If you do not show up in court in given date, judge should send a subpoena to your place of residence. Only if you still do not show up after this, judge has a right to make a decision without you being present. Usually, if person accused of misdemeanor does not appear in court, process is delayed for an indefinite period, and after 2 months process is closed and forgotten.

10. You have a right to have an attorney in a court process. In case you were not released after writing minutes but taken to court, make a written plea to delay court for a few days, so that you could have a lawyer and that lawyer could acquaintance himself with materials of the case. Never agree to have a public lawyer proposed by the court! In case judge agrees to delay case and you are free, you may discuss with an attorney about further steps to be taken.

11. Most likely you will be accused according to article 20.2 of administrative codex "Violation of established order of organization or realization of a meeting, demonstration, march or picket". Organizer of an action may be fined an amount of 10-20 monthly minimal wages, which is currently 1000-2000 rubles (30-60 euros), whereas a participator may be fined an amount of 5-10 monthly minimal wages (15-30 euros). But in most of the cases you may avoid this fine.

12. There are plenty of legal opportunities for authorities to shorten validity period of your visa down to three following days, for example if they consider you “a danger to national security”, or if you commit any misdemeanor, such as a failure to register in time. In case you do not leave Russia during these three days, you may deported, but even in this case it is unlikely that you end up to a detention center, since they are full – most likely they just threat you with a detention but let you out to the street with an annulled visa, demanding that you get to border on your own. In case you were sentenced to an arrest for a few days, you have a right to overstay in Russia.

13. If court took place, but you do not agree with the decision, you may appeal decision of the court to court of appeal during 10 days. Do not waste time, but immediately contact a lawyer or a human rights activist who may help you in preparing the appeal.

In case you get arrested, call to telephone: (outdated numbers deleted)

We try to help you any way we can.