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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Most Visitors Ignore New Registration Law

Go to a train station waiting room these days and you're likely to see a room full of law breakers.


That's because the mayor has decreed that all citizens of the former U. S. S. R. except for residents of Russia must register within 24 hours of arriving in the capital, and virtually all visitors ignore the order.


"I can say with certainty that no one in this hall is registered", said Nikolai Lysenko, 56, a locomotive driver from Kazakhstan. He pointed to a packed waiting room in Byelorussky station where many citizens from the former republics awaited international trains back home after visits to Moscow.


Lysenko said that neither he nor anyone else would register voluntarily, and like many others, he said the law was just plain stupid.


Mayor Yury Luzhkov adopted the registration measure, effective March 17, in an effort to fight crime. His aides say a significant percentage of crime in Moscow emanates from 400, 000 or so citizens of the former republics.


In theory, visitors will register with administrators of apartment buildings or at hotels; those violating the regulation are fined 225 rubles a day.


The law has been hotly debated. Both the public prosecutor and the City Council have challenged it as a violation of individual rights, and they have succeeded in getting the mayor to eliminate a proposed punishment of up to 15 day's imprisonment for violators.


Most visitors are unaware of the controversy. Like many arriving at Moscow's train stations these days, Gennady Viktorovich brings a large cargo of goods with him every few weeks from Pinsk, in Belarus, to sell at a profit.


"I've not paid any attention to it at all", he said of the registration law.


A spokesman for the Moscow police said they intend to enforce the law. Yet at the Byelorussky station police department, officers say they are not paying any attention to the registration regulation.


"The public prosecutor said the law does not exist, so we do not check registration", said policeman Sergei Igorovich, who declined to give his last name. "The mayor cannot change Russian law or contradict existing law".


At city hall, the mayor's assistant legislative director blamed police for lax enforcement.


"Perhaps you can say that police don't sufficiently know the law, and they don't sufficiently implement the law", said Dmitry Lebedev.


Locomotive driver Lysenko has a simple suggestion for city hall if it is serious about enforcing registration.


"Set up a registration table at airports and train stations, and make announcements to passengers that they must register upon arrival", he said. "Otherwise, no one will ever register".