Russian asylum-seeker family’s securty compromised by asylum reception center

by , under Enrique Tessieri

A Russian family under serious threat of human rights violations plans to complain to the chancellor of justice against the Imatra asylum reception center, which alleges had endangered the Russian asylum seekers’ security.

The family lived in Finland during 2017-2020. They are Ludmila*, her elderly mother, husband, and three other family members, including four cats.

A representative of Free Movement (Vapaa liikuvuus), an NGO that promotes equality and opposes deportations, detention, and criminalization of migrants, has promised to assist the family with the complaint. 

An official complaint is necessary to prove to the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) that information leaked to Russian authorities, putting the family in even greater danger.

The Russian family in question alleges that a worker at the Imatra asylum reception center had compromised their security by calling the Russian Embassy in Helsinki about their voluntary return to Georgia.

The family received a notice in November from the police that their stay in Finland had expired. They were given two options: leave Finland voluntarily or by force.

Ludmila said that since they did not want to break the law, they were willing to leave the country voluntarily. Since the family feared returning to Russia, where they allege being persecuted by the authorities, Ludmila said they planned to go to Georgia, where it would be safer.

To travel to Georgia, they needed valid passports which had expired.

“The social worker at the asylum reception center sent an SMS [in November], ‘Ludmila, I called the Russian Embassy. I asked how you can renew your passport. It is best if you call them yourself and ask.'”

Surprised that the social worker had got in touch with the Russian Embassy, the correct procedure would be to get in touch with IOM (International Organization of Migration) or the police, according to Ludmila.

She called the embassy as the social worker had asked. An employee there said that a social worker had called and knew everything about our case.

“The embassy official asked me to introduce myself but I refused,” Ludmila continued. “It was clear that the asylum reception center worker had passed sensitive infrormation about us to the Russian Embassy, a country where we don’t feel safe and are persecuted.”

“After this incident, we fled Finland in November [and ended up in Sweden] with the whole family because we feared for our security,” she added.

Ludmila and a representative of the Free Movement claim that the Imatra asylum reception center denies ever getting in touch with the Russian Embassy.

Ludmila, however, said she has the SMS messages sent to her by the social worker where she admits getting in touch with the embassy.

*The name was changed to protect the asylum seeker’s identity.