ECtHR - Tatishivili v. Russia

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.

Case name (in original language)
Tatishivili v. Russia [2007] Application no. 1509/02
Case status
Case number
European Court of Human Rights, Tatishivili v. Russia (Application no. 1509/02), 22 February 2007
Date of decision
Court / UN Treaty Body
European Court of Human Rights
Language(s) the decision is available in
Applicant's country of birth
Soviet Union {former}
Applicant's country of residence
Russian Federation
Relevant Legislative Provisions

European Convention on Human Rights Article 2 protocol No.4, Article 6 §1, Article 41, Article 44 §2

Council of Europe Resolution 1277 (2002)

Article 8, xii USSR Law on the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the USSR  1981

Section 5 and 32 Rules on the Stay of Foreign Citizens in the USSR 1991

Section 1 Russian law on the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens 2002

Bishkek Agreement 2000


The applicant was born in Georgia and held former USSR citizenship until 2000 when she became stateless. Consequently, she applied for residence registration in Moscow. Her residence registration was refused as she “failed to provide the complete set of documents”. In 2001 the applicant challenged the refusal claiming that there was no legal basis for restricting her right to obtain residence registration, in case of the correct document submission. 

The decision was appealed, on the ground that the District Court had incorrectly referred to the applicant's Georgian citizenship and a visa requirement for her entry into the Russian Federation, given that the applicant had never held Georgian citizenship. Finally, in August 2001, the Moscow City Court reiterated the District Court's findings and dismissed the claim, as she had failed to prove her Russian citizenship or an intention to obtain it.

The case originated in an application against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in December 2001. The applicant complained about the arbitrary denial of residence registration at her chosen address and a claim of unfair judicial proceedings. 

Decision & Reasoning

Russia erred in law in determining that the applicant needed an entry visa as a Georgian citizen, as the Court observed that the applicant relied on her former USSR citizenship. 

The Court found that the registration of the applicant's residence in Georgia dating back to the early 1990s had no automatic bearing on her citizenship determination under either Russian or Georgian laws. It dismissed the Government's allegation that the applicant held Georgian citizenship, as the denunciation of the Bishkek Agreement on visa-free exchanges, should not affect the lawfulness of her residence on Russian territory.

Moreover, it contested the Government’s argument that the appellant was stateless at the material time and had consequently been required to hold a residence permit in accordance with the 1981 USSR Law on Foreign Citizens. Noting that before 31 December 2000 individuals who had not obtained the citizenship of one of the newly independent States, held the special legal status of a “citizen of the former USSR” in Russia. It was only after that date they were to be considered stateless. At the material time, early December 2000, the requirement to have a residence permit established under the 1981 USSR law, did not apply to her because as she was neither a foreign citizen nor a stateless person. 

The Court found that the Government's claim that the applicant's presence in Russia was unlawful was concluded without a legal and/or factual basis. The Court accepted that the applicant, as a “citizen of the former USSR” at the material time, was lawfully present in Russia under Article 2 § 1 of Protocol No. 4. 

Further, the Court ruled under Article 41, that compensations had to be made to the applicant, due to her loss of earnings and administrative fines for the absence of registration of residency. 


The Court judged in favour of the appellant and held that there had been a violation of Article 2, of Protocol No. 4, and Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.

Caselaw cited

Denizci and Others v. Cyprus [2001], 25316-25321/94 and 27207/95

Bolat v. Russia [2006], 14139/03

Timishev v. Russia [2005], 55762/00 and 55974/00

Tsonev v. Bulgaria [2006], 45963/99

Ruiz Torija v. Spain [1994], 18390/91

Suominen v. Finland [2003], 37801/97

Hirvisaari v. Finland [2001], 49684/99