Ten people at the Kirov temporary detention center for foreign citizens and stateless persons refused to eat protesting against the ban on visits and conditions of detention. What is known about the situation — in the material of «7x7».
Since November 16, 10 out of 22 people in the center refused to eat. According to Artur Abashev, a member of the Public Monitoring Commission of the Kirov Region, who visited the center, three people reported that they did not eat because they had no appetite, and seven people said that this was a hunger strike against the conditions of detention. Protesters complain about the ban on visits, rude management, that walks are 15–20 minutes instead of an hour, and that washcloths are taken from them. The members of the commission recorded several violations: there are no radios in the rooms, shelves for toiletries, a cistern with drinking water, and in the walking area there is no awning and benches. Part of the detainees complained that dairy products, except condensed milk, were prohibited in programs.
One of the detainees in the center told human rights activists that a citizen of Azerbaijan was put in separate cell because of complaints that he was not allowed to see his children. The head of the center, Alexey Potekhin, explained to Abashev that the migrant was transferred to a separate cell due to the lack of places. A member of the Public Monitoring Commission claims that there were places in general cells.
Artur Abashev quoted one of the detainees: "They keep us like animals, although we are not criminals." The members of the PMC wrote a statement to the prosecutor’s office and sent an appeal to the leadership of the department of the Russian Interior Ministry in the Kirov region against the center’s head.
Reaction of the authorities
Employees of the prosecutor's office, together with the human rights ombudsman, visited the temporary detention center for migrants on November 20. According to the press secretary of the regional prosecutor’s office, Denis Sukhomlin, the department’s staff interviewed those who complained about the conditions of detention, an inspection was scheduled. Whether their testimony was confirmed, the prosecutor's office did not report, there are no preliminary results of the inspection yet. Sukhomlin could not say when it is complete. According to him, part of the complained requested to provide them with phones with Internet access. He did not consider this requirement legitimate. Sukhomlin said that he would not call the actions of migrants a hunger strike:
"As far as I know, they refuse to eat food, which is provided by the administration. Their right to eat food, sent by relatives, is not limited."
We failed to contact with the head of the temporary detention center Alexey Potekhin, his phone is not responding. The «7x7» journalist, who arrived at the center, was told that Potekhin was not there. When the officer of the checkpoint called Potekhin, presumably on his mobile phone, he said that only the press service of the Department of the Interior would provide information about the situation in the center. The press service of the department refused to promptly answer the questions of «7x7» and asked to send a request.
«7x7» also failed to get a comment of ombudsman in the Kirov region.
What is a temporary detention center for migrants?
The temporary detention center for foreign citizens and stateless persons opened in Kirov in April 2014. It temporarily holds foreigners, whose stay in Russia was considered undesirable by a court decision. They stay in the center until the issue of expulsion or deportation is resolved. Most of those held in the center are foreign citizens who have served sentences for crimes. The center is designed for 52 people.
Civil activists visited the center at least twice. In October 2017, the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Kirov region, Alexander Panov, came there. He found no violations of the conditions of detention. Members of the Public Council at the Ministry of Internal Affairs also had no complaints about the center in July 2018.
The human rights activist and the head of the Civic Assistance Committee, Svetlana Gannushkina, explained that the conditions of detention in the centers for migrants raise questions from civil activists:
"There were several hunger strikes, even riots, because these centers are often former prisons, special detention facilities. Previously, complaints from there were absolutely monstrous: no dishes, no bed linen, mattresses. The children were separated from their parents. Besides, people were kept in the centers for an unlimited amount of time, some were staying there for five years. It was many years ago, now the situation has improved significantly. But still it remains a former prison. After the decision of the Constitutional Court of May 23, 2017, such persons are kept [only stateless persons are meant] in such centers only for three months, then a person gets the right to ask whether they will deport him or release him."
Heads of the centers for foreign citizens, according to the human rights activist, during the protests behave "in a completely different way, someone even called the riot police, and organized a massacre." According to Gannushkina, legal methods are needed to express their disagreement with the actions of the staff of the centers. At the same time, for prisoners, hunger strike becomes the only way to protest.
"If legal methods no longer work, this is the only thing a person can do himself, he does not need to involve anyone," concluded the human rights activist.
Katerina Klepikovskaya, Irina Shabalina, Denis Strelkov, «7x7»