20 years without documents. The Story of Armen

In Autumn 2020 Armen contacted the Kharkiv office of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P). His hope faded a long time ago since he had tried to get a passport or at least some document proving his identity and status for many years already.

Life without a passport and/or documents

The man signed agreements with several lawyers, yet all their attempts were unsuccessful.  When he was in total despair, the State Migration Service of Ukraine advised him to turn to the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P).

Armen's life story is full of troubles. Armenian by nationality, he was born in 1958 in Azerbaijan (back then – a soviet republic, – ed. note).

He grew up there, graduated from school, received a passport of a citizen of the USSR, and served in the Soviet Army. He was stationed in the Zhytomyr region and has since fallen in love with Ukraine, where he then moved into later in his life. After the Army, he worked in Azerbaijan, then graduated from the Kharkiv Fire and Technical School in 1985. Three years later he married and became a father of his daughter. But in 1990, due to ethnopolitical conflict, the family was forced to flee their home and, after a series of relocations, in January 1991 settled in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

A long time Armen lived with a passport of a citizen of the USSR. His wife and daughter received Ukrainian citizenship and passports, and a son was born… But Armen did not have time to obtain the passport of Ukraine, the country of which he always considered himself a citizen: in the early 2000s, all his documents were stolen. For about 20 years Armen has been living without documents.

Lawyers get to work

Analyzing the actual life circumstances described by Armen, the lawyer of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P), Oksana Zhelanova, came to the conclusion that it is not technically possible to establish Armen's Ukraine's citizenship. Therefore, the man is a stateless person and can acquire Ukrainian citizenship by territorial origin on the basis of permanent residence in Ukraine until August 24, 1991.

Since the procedure of documenting stateless persons in Ukraine had not been working at the time of Armen's application to the R2P, it was decided to use the waiting time and prepare for acquiring Ukrainian citizenship by territorial origin. After making a number of lawyer's inquiries and gathering the necessary evidence, the lawyer prepared a statement to the court to establish the fact of Armen's residence on the territory of Ukraine until August 24, 1991. In May 2021, the decision of the Zhovtnevyi District Court of Kharkiv established this fact.

Stateless Determination Procedure: A New Hope

When the procedure of documenting stateless persons was finally approved by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine № 317 and started working in full force, specialists of the Novobavarskyi branch of the State Migration Service of Ukraine in the Kharkiv region successfully accepted an application from Armen to recognize him as a stateless person.

There is still a long way to go: for the SMS it’s lots of hard work, for Armen – waiting. But Armen, who holds the first official document received in Ukraine, is already seeing the light ahead and hopes to hold the coveted passport of a country that sheltered his family, which he has considered home for many years, by the end of the year.

We will accompany him on this difficult path to the realization of a dream, and express our sincere gratitude to the employees of the State Migration Service of Ukraine – Iryna Kalyna, Tetyana Korobkova, and Natalia Kushnir for their high competence and human-centered approach in addressing the issue of statelessness.