European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg starts hearings on Latvian non-citizens' case

The European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg starts hearings on the case of the Sysoyevs, a family from Latvia. The family will be tried under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which reads, "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and correspondence." The plaintiffs are all the four members of the Sysoyevs: Arkady, the husband, Svetlana, the wife, and their two daughters. The head of the family is a former military who served in Latvia from 1968 and retired there back in 1989, i.e. before this former Baltic state obtained independence. In 1969, his wife Svetlana came to Latvia for permanent residence. Both of their daughters were born in Latvia. The eldest girl, Tatiana Sysoyeva, is the only family member who has a certificate of registration which allows her to live permanently in Latvia, because she is married to a Latvian citizen. Their two children are Latvian citizens as well. However, the Latvian authorities refuse to grant certificates of registration to the rest of the Sysoyevs and demand that they leave the country.

In its letter of explanation to the Strasbourg Human Rights Court, the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave the following reason for refusing to grant the Sysoyevs a certificate of registration: providing incorrect information to the Residents register. Under the Latvian legislation the status of permanent Latvian resident non-citizen is granted to those persons "who are not registered in any other country except Latvia." And two members of the Sysoyevs family, Arkady and Svetlana, were granted Russian citizenship in the 1990s, from 1992 to 1995 they were registered in Latvia without having reported to the Latvian authorities, claims the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Sysoyevs do not deny these facts in court. But they claim it was done not through malicious intent, but in order to escape "the prosecution of former USSR militaries" carried out in Latvia at that time. They note that since 1969 they have been permanently living in Latvia. The family is not going to appear before the Strasbourg Court either, because under their present status of persons subject to deportation they won't be able to come back to Latvia once they leave the country. That's why Moscow defence lawyers Alexander Asnis and Vitaly Portnov will be acting on behalf of the Sysoyevs in court.

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