Russia

Political System

The current political system in Russia is based off the 1993 Constitution, which made Russia into a duel-executive parliamentary system.

  • President: The President is granted broad powers by the constitution, including the ability to pass decrees without legislative review. The office is also given the power to appoint many officials. The President is elected by a two-round run-off election system. If no candidate receives 50% or more of the votes, the two candidates with the most votes run against each other in the second round. The candidate with the most votes then wins[i]. Under Dmitry Medvedev, the length of the term of a President was extended from four years to six.

  • Prime Minister: The Prime Minister’s powers are far more inferior to the Presidents. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and is the next to become President in case of death or impeachment[ii].

  • The State Duma: The Duma is the lower house in the Russian Federal Assembly. It has the most legislative power, as all bills must be approved by the Duma. The Duma has little power over the President. Even if it was to express a vote of no confidence, the President is able to continue actions regardless. There are 450 seats[iii]. The election for these seats have changed several time since the Constitution was written in 1993, but currently uses proportional representation for half the seats and elects the other half by voting for individual candidates[iv]. The elections were originally held every four years, but as of 2008 are held every five years[v]

  • The Federal Council: The Federal Council is the upper house of the Federal Assembly and consists of 170 senators, two from each of the 85 districts. These districts are made up of provinces, territories, cities, republics, regions, and oblasts. One of the two senators from each district is directly elected, while the other is nominated by the provincial governor and confirmed by the Duma[vi].


[i] http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/Russianpoliticalsystem.html

[ii] http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/Russianpoliticalsystem.html

[iii] http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/Russianpoliticalsystem.html

[iv] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/03/world/europe/putin-orders-new-system-for-russian-parliamentary-elections.html

[v] http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/Russianpoliticalsystem.html

[vi] http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/Russianpoliticalsystem.html

Current Political Leaders
  • Vladimir Putin: Vladimir Putin was born in 1952 in St. Petersburg. He worked as an intelligence officer for the Soviet Union’s KGB prior to launching his political career. In 1999, Putin was made Secretary of the Russian Security Council and was soon appointed Prime Minister a few months later. In 2000, he was elected president of the Russian Federation following Boris Yeltsin’s resignation at the end of 1999. He was reelected in 2004 and served until 2008, when he was once again appointed Prime Minister. Putin was elected President yet again in 2012 and will be in office until 2018[i].

  • Dmitry Medvedev: Medvedev took office as Russia’s Prime Minister in August, 2012. He served as President for four years between 2008 and 2012, and as Prime Minister from 2005 to 2008[ii].


[i] http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/03/world/europe/vladimir-putin---fast-facts/

[ii] http://premier.gov.ru/en/biography/

National Statistics

[i]

  • Population (2015): 144,096,812 (74% urban, 26% rural)

  • Population Density: 9 people per square kilometer

  • Land Area: 16,376,870 square kilometers

  • Estimated Per Capita Income: $9,092

  • Racial Breakdown[ii]:

    • Russian: 79.83%

    • Tatars: 3.83%

    • Ukrainians: 2.03%

    • Bashkirs: 1.15%

    • Chuvashs: 1.13%

    • Chechens: .94%

    • Armenians: .78%

  • Unemployment Rate (2014): 5.1[iii]


[i] http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL?locations=RU

[ii] http://www.rusemb.org.uk/russianpopulation/

[iii] http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.UEM.TOTL.ZS?locations=RU

Refugee Resettlement Program History

[i]

    • 1951: The USSR did not ratify the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees due to the belief that it was “dictated by the Western countries"

    • 1991: Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, what once was internal migration became international migration. Dozens of different armed conflicts and human right violations in the early 90’s led to many displaced people from former Soviet Union countries.

    • 1992: The newly formed Russian Federation allowed the UNHCR to establish an office in the country. The same year, the Federal Migration Service (FMS) was founded.

    • 1993: The Russian Federation passed the Law on Refugees and the Law on Forced Migrants. The difference between the two lies in citizenship; forced migrants generally either had citizenship or qualified for it, whereas refugees were non-nationals. These laws were meant to help people from former Soviet Union nations move to Russia, but Russia began to have too heavy a flow of asylum seekers.The same year, Russia ratified the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol.

    • 1994: Russia received many requests for asylum. 477,900 refugees and forced migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus were registered by the FMS, but the number of those who were unregistered is estimated to be between 1 and 2.5 million. Russia also received 40,000 requests for asylum, mostly from Afghanistan but also from Somalia, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Angola and other countries. Only 924 were recognized by the FMS.

    • 1997: The Law on Refugees was amended due to overwhelming immigration. The amendment tightened deadlines, removed persecution based on language as a possible qualification to be a refugee, and only offered protection up to three years. It also limited movement of refugees once in Russia, as they had to de-register from the area they had been living in and re-register in their new community. The amendment also had no non-discrimination provision, no right to information and access to the procedure, and no guarantee against

    • 2014: The Russian Federation passed Regulation No. 690, Granting of Temporary Asylum for Citizens of Ukraine in the Territory of the Russian Federation through Simplified Procedure, as well as Provisional Simplified Rules for Granting Temporary Asylum in the Territory of the Russian Federation for Citizens of Ukraine and Stateless Persons.


[i] https://oup.silverchair-cdn.com/oup/backfile/Content_public/Journal/jrs/18/4/10.1093/refuge/fei041/2/fei041.pdf?Expires=1488311157&Signature=YV-DkyX3-l8fsgtznOZxn94q4br2XXo8BDc1~PJJ27sR3E-Mdofy7NzsXbjKYrOt8K3k6ox-0dbyofPf0qSyv0j73CuZKkG5zgCs86gPVeyH8YNxNvbxAlCGWmm6QtRe3HtMKt6PbU6hhtwJJGLIYSYs8abYZHNsvXqpw~EFqFqLLcpt0dis4ohyrAzjBueAKAerDYDzFzYPlKFf7hOHsOcOb441sjjF8D2Fphs4QrNJuQa78Jrdzi59aev8zIvEF11D2WrL76~2gToga3ZLmXfv4t0gcK41~mJNnlalkq-Vq4GRW6tLPY1cQ66lcg7H6s44O7tm3U~PS1a1f5XUhA__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAIUCZBIA4LVPAVW3Q

Refugee Resettlement Program Funding

Refugee resettlement is funded by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.

Refugee Resettlement Data

Settlement data for the Russian Federation was not readily available. However, according to a 2013 United Nations Report, Russia was second only to the United States in total amount of immigrants. Many of these migrants are illegally in Russia and come from Commonwealth of Independent States, countries that have high poverty rates. For instance, almost 10% of Tajikistan’s population work in Russia due to average salaries being ten to fifty times higher in Russia than in Tajikistan[i].

            Russia’s refugee policies are meant to help those from the Commonwealth of Independent States countries and former Soviet Union countries receive asylum in Russia (see Refugee Resettlement Overview). However, without accessible data, it is difficult to effectively evaluate Russian refugee resettlement. According to a 2016 NPR article, the Federal Migration Service reports over a million Ukrainians have sought refuge in Russia between 2014 and 2016 due to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. Svetlana Gannushkina, head of the Civic Assistance Committee, says that of all the Ukrainians seeking asylum in Russia, only 275 have been granted refugee status[ii]. Human Rights Watch reports that Russia has only given two Syrians refugee status since 2011 despite the country’s involvement in the conflict there[iii].


[i] http://www.irinnews.org/report/23873/central-asia-special-report-labour-migrants-russia

[ii] http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/04/02/470375761/ukrainians-who-fled-to-russia-find-the-welcome-is-no-longer-warm

[iii] https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/09/14/russia-failing-do-fair-share-help-syrian-refugees

Asylum Seekers Recognized

 Country of Origin

2012

2013

2014

2015

Total

Afghanistan

348

209

195

291

1043

Angola

1

1

0

0

2

Armenia

2

0

7

6

15

Azerbaijan

2

6

0

0

8

Bangladesh

3

0

0

0

3

Belarus

5

0

0

13

18

China

4

1

0

0

5

Congo

1

1

0

0

2

DPRK

29

6

6

13

54

DRC

12

0

0

0

12

Egypt

6

11

20

14

51

Eritrea

3

1

0

0

4

Georgia

177

64

52

41

334

Guinea

2

1

0

0

3

Iran

5

2

0

0

7

Iraq

7

6

8

17

38

Kazakhstan

11

0

0

5

16

Kyrgyzstan

25

7

13

14

59

Latvia

1

0

0

0

1

Lebanon

0

9

0

0

9

Moldova

3

2

9

11

25

Nigeria

3

0

0

0

3

Pakistan

4

3

0

6

13

Palestine

1

6

6

9

22

Somalia

2

0

0

0

2

Sudan

4

5

7

5

21

Syria

91

839

413

393

1736

Tajikistan

12

8

10

22

52

Turkmenistan

7

0

5

5

17

Turkey

1

0

0

0

1

Ukraine

7

7

2229

1097

3340

USA

1

0

0

0

1

Uzbekistan

45

16

42

39

142

Yemen

2

0

0

24

26

Refugee Resettlement Diagram

Refugee Resettlement Overview

            The Russian Federation’s refugee policy has been shifting since the country’s establishment in 1993. The Federal Law on Refugees, passed in 1993, is the main legislation for refugees and asylum seekers and dictates how refugees are accepted and resettled. According to this law, any person applying for refugee status must be eighteen years of older. He or she may apply personally through a diplomatic mission or consular office, or at a checkpoint on the border. However, if this person enters Russia illegally, he or she must apply for refugee status with 24 hours of entering the country. There are 2 stages for applying for refugee status:

First Stage: The first stage the refugee application process consists of a preliminary examination of the application, followed by an examination based on merits to ensure that the conditions exist to allow this person to qualify as a refugee. During this stage, applicants receive the right to an interpreter, a lump sum (less than 100 rubles each) for each family member, temporary housing accommodation, access to food and medical aid, and vocational training and job placement. This first stage usually takes about one month.

Second Stage: The second stage is a fact check of the information given by the applicants, a background check, and a review of their entrance into Russia. Those who make it past this second stage receive a certificate of refugee status that replaces their original forms of identification. This certificate is the only identification recognized by authorities.

Recognized refugees are given many rights, such as:

  • Access to an interpreter

  • Travel allowance and baggage shipment to assigned place of residence

  • Protection by Ministry of Internal Affairs

  • Temporary accommodation or housing and access to food and public utilities

  • Medical assistance equal to that of Russian citizens

  • Vocational training and job placement assistance

  • Social security

  • Participation in public activities[i]

Refugees, however, are not guaranteed protection from refoulement under the 1997 amendment to the Law on Refugees. This amendment also makes it difficult for refugees to move within Russia, as they have to de-register with local authorities of their current community and re-register into the community they plan to move to. This amendment has no non-discrimination policy and does not offer the right to information or access to the application procedure.

         Those denied refugee status but allowed to remain in Russia for humanitarian reasons may apply for asylum. They file an application with regional bodies of Federal Migration Service (up to 2016). If accepted, those granted asylum are issued a certificate and are allowed to remain in Russia for one year, though asylum can be renewed annually. Asylum seekers need to meet certain health requirements in order to be accepted. This process can take up to 3 months, however many wait several years for a decision to be made[ii].

         Due to the flow of refugees from the Ukraine since the conflict there, the “Regulation on Granting Temporary Asylum for Citizens of Ukraine in the Territory of the Russian Federation through Simplified Procedure” and the “Provisional Simplified Rules for Granting Temporary Asylum in the Territory of the Russian Federation for Citizens of Ukraine and Stateless Persons” were passed in 2014. These regulations made it easier for Ukrainians to apply for asylum in Russia[iii].

         The Presidential Decree of April 5, 2016, number 156, abolished the FMS. Jurisdiction over migration and refugees was passed to the Main Directorate of Migration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.


[i] https://www.loc.gov/law/help/refugee-law/russianfederation.php

[ii] https://oup.silverchair-cdn.com/oup/backfile/Content_public/Journal/jrs/18/4/10.1093/refuge/fei041/2/fei041.pdf?Expires=1488311157&Signature=YV-DkyX3-l8fsgtznOZxn94q4br2XXo8BDc1~PJJ27sR3E-Mdofy7NzsXbjKYrOt8K3k6ox-0dbyofPf0qSyv0j73CuZKkG5zgCs86gPVeyH8YNxNvbxAlCGWmm6QtRe3HtMKt6PbU6hhtwJJGLIYSYs8abYZHNsvXqpw~EFqFqLLcpt0dis4ohyrAzjBueAKAerDYDzFzYPlKFf7hOHsOcOb441sjjF8D2Fphs4QrNJuQa78Jrdzi59aev8zIvEF11D2WrL76~2gToga3ZLmXfv4t0gcK41~mJNnlalkq-Vq4GRW6tLPY1cQ66lcg7H6s44O7tm3U~PS1a1f5XUhA__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAIUCZBIA4LVPAVW3Q

[iii] https://www.loc.gov/law/help/refugee-law/russianfederation.php

Lead Resettlement Organizations

Civic Assistance Committee (Гражданскоу Содуйствие)[i]

Established: The Civic Assistance Committee was established in 1990. It was the first non-governmental organization formed to help refugees.

Funding: The CAC is financed by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees since 1998, by Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection European Commission, and by several Russian and foreign organizations and foundations, and periodically by several different companies.

Office location: Moscow, Olympiyski Prospect

Responsibilities and Functions: The CAC provides refugees with humanitarian aid, offer legal aid, advocate for their interests, and help them receive social benefits.

Leadership & Contacts:

            Director: Svetlana Gannushkina

 

International Organization for Migration[ii]

Established: The International Organization for Migration was established in 1951.

Office location:  Geneva, Switzerland

Responsibilities and Functions: The IOM helps relocate refugees in Russia to the United States and Canada.

Leadership & Contacts:

            Director General: Ambassador William Lacy Swing

            Deputy Director General: Ambassador Laura Thompson


[i] http://refugee.ru/en/about-organization/

[ii] https://www.iom.int/countries/russian-federation



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