More Russians Finding Themselves on Moscow's 'Black Lists'
series: Crisis in the Caucasus - 2008
The Russian / Georgian Conflict and Its Impact on Azerbaijan
Window on Eurasia: Original
Florence, December 12 - One not be a Chechen militant or an opposition
figure to figure on one of the increasing number of "black
lists" compiled and maintained by various Russian government
agencies. But once someone's name is included in such a list,
"Novyye izvestiya" reports, it is almost impossible
for the individual involved to get it removed.
"Almost all force structures today have lists" which
prevent people from coming into Russia or leaving it, "Novyye
izvestiya" reported. But officials are reluctant to admit
the existence of these lists let alone discuss them, and consequently
individuals typically learn about them only when they are prevented
from doing something they wanted to do.
Most governments, of course, maintain watch lists of people they
either want to prevent from coming in or to arrest because they
are wanted on charges either by the country in question or Interpol,
but the approach of the Russian government in this area appears
to go far beyond normal practice http://www.newizv.ru/news/2008-12-09/102899/
The lists vary in size the one including the names of Russians
who because of unpaid indebtedness cannot leave the country now
includes more than 60,000 names purpose, and, judging by
some of the mistakes "Novyye izvestiya" described,
care with which they are assembled and maintained.
The list that the Federal Migration Service (FMS) maintains supposedly
to block the entrance of illegal immigrants or migrants with
a criminal record, but according to human rights activists, this
list is used by the authorities to block "completely respectable
foreigners" whom Moscow objects to, such as Natalya Morar,
a Moldovan journalist who worked in "New Times."
The Russian interior ministry also maintains a list, apparently
unregulated by any law, which includes not only people the government
has decided often without benefit of a hearing are "extremists"
and who sometimes turn out to be simply members of opposition
According to the Moscow paper, the militia "officially acknowledges
only one 'black' list." It includes football "hooligans."
Other agencies admit to some of their lists but not to others.
And still a third refuses to say anything or allow an individual
to check whether he or she should be on a list. Any mistakes
are blamed on transcription errors.
An especially disturbing kind of list was reported yesterday
by "Novaya gazeta." Apparently, teachers in Krasnodar
are now being asked to prepare lists of pupils of "Caucasus
nationality" who thus may become bearers of extremism and
then send in these lists to the local police officials.
"How such personal data will be used," the paper reported,
"officials in the education department do not know,"
suggesting that the journalist should ask the militia."
But one especially frightening aspect of the Krasnodar lists
is that they "are being formulated above all on the basis
of the external appearance of the children" rather than
on any specific behavior.
But the existence of these multiple lists creates two more serious
problems. On the one hand, it means that the authorities can
use now one list and now another to restrict the activities of
an individual creating a Kafkaesque world in which no one can
be sure who is responsible or what will happen next.
And on the other, this entire system and particularly its lack
of transparency and appeal reinforces what Oleg Panfilov, director
of the Center of Journalism in Extreme Situations, describes
as "an immemorial Russian tradition: laws exist but not
all bureaucrats want to fulfill them." And in the current
atmosphere, the lists are just one more way for them to act arbitrarily.
Back to Goble Index
to Crisis in the Caucasus - Index
AI Home Page | Magazine