The Georgian born applicant held former USSR citizenship until 2000, when she became stateless. Subsequently, she applied for residence registration in Moscow but was dismissed at first instance and on following appeals, due to failing to confirm her Georgian citizenship or apply for Russian citizenship. The Court ruled that there had been a violation of Article 2 § 1 of Protocol No. 4 and Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
The applicant was born in the Soviet Union on the territory of Russia. The facts as to where the applicant lived and when are disputed in the case. In 1999 he was issued a Ukrainian passport, but a court later established that the place and date of birth he indicated were not correct, and his passport was confiscated and destroyed. The authorities argued that the applicant ought to prove he never acquired Russian nationality or alternatively that he renounced his Russian nationality.
The applicant has been residing in Russia since 2002 with a Russian passport. His request to renew his passport in 2011 was denied, reason being that his previous passport was not issued in accordance with applicable rules, the latter having been confiscated on the basis of the same decision. The refusal to renew the applicant's passport rendered him stateless, which was considered by the court as a strong argument to rule in favour of the applicant and declare the decision of the responsible authority unlawful.
The case concerns an applicant who was a Ukrainian citizen and a resident of Crimean Peninsular at the time of Crimean annexation to Russia. He was originally issued with a Russian passport in 2014, which was subsequently confiscated as a government initiated verification procedure established he did not comply with the relevant residency requirements to be considered a Russian citizen. The Court, on appeal, sided with the applicant, confirming his right to Russian citizenship despite not complying with all the formal requirements.
In its reasoning the Court relied heavily on the importance to take all the relevant and factual evidence when establishing the legal fact of residence, and basing it on a broad range of evidence about the person's personal and professional life, as well as intentions, not the merely the strict formalistic rules of residence registration, especially in light of consequences of denial of access to citizenship for the applicant, and the circumstances of state succession. The Court refers extensively to international legal instruments, even those Russia hasn't ratified, such as the European Convention on Nationality and its anti-statelessness safeguards, the CoE Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession, as well as art. 15 UDHR, and other international legal instruments.
The plaintiff lost the passport of citizen of Ukraine, which was issued in the currently uncontrolled territory of Ukraine. The court ordered the State Migration Service to issue a passport to the plaintiff, since the SMS did not prove the reasonableness and lawfulness of the decision to refuse to issue a passport as a citizen of Ukraine.