ECtHR - Sisojeva and Others v. Latvia

A family of three applicants, who came to Latvia under the former Soviet Union, were denied permanent resident status following its independence and offered short term residence status and registration on the domestic register of residents. The second and third applicants have Russian nationality, while the first applicant has no nationality. Following complaints of their Article 8 and Article 34 rights being violated, it was held that Article 8 cannot guarantee the right to a particular type of residence permit.

Case name (in original language)
Sisojeva and Others v. Latvia, Application no. 60654/00
Case status
Case number
European Court of Human Rights, Sisojeva and Others v. Latvia, Application no. 60654/00, 15 January 2007
Date of decision
Court / UN Treaty Body
European Court of Human Rights
Language(s) the decision is available in
Applicant's country of birth
Soviet Union {former}
Applicant's country of residence
Relevant Legislative Provisions

s.1 of the Immigration law and the Russian-Latvian agreement of 30 April 1994
s.1 of the Non-Citizens Act 1998
s.2 (1), s.4, s.6(1) and (2), s.7(2), s.38, s.40 of the Status of Stateless Persons Act 2004
s.1, s.23(3), s.24, s.32(3), s.33(2), s.40 (1) and (2), s.41, s.42, s.47 of the Immigration Act 2003
Article 187 and Articles 190-3 of the Regulatory Offences Code
The Russian-Latvian agreement of 30 April 1994
s.360(4) of the Administrative Procedure Act 2004
s.15 of the National Security Establishments Act 1994
Articles 8, 18, 37 § 1 (b), 34 and 43 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms


The first applicant, Svetlana Sisojeva former military personnel in the Soviet army, and the second applicant, his wife Arkady Sisojev came to Latvia following it joining the Soviet Union, where they had two daughters – one of which being the third applicant, Aksana Sisojeva. The second and third applicants both hold Russian nationality, and the first applicant has no nationality. Following the restoration of Latvian independence, all three applicants became stateless. 

In 1993 the three applicants applied for permanent resident status to the Latvian Interior Ministry's Citizenship and Immigration Department and requested to be registered as such in the Register of Residents of the Republic of Latvia. However, the Department issued them only short-term residence permits but did allow the application to register the applicants in the Register of Residents.

In 1995 the Department uncovered that the first two applicants had obtained former Soviet passports and had been able to acquire their place of residence registered as Russian, alongside having a registered place of residence in Latvia. In 1996, the Aluksne District Court of First Instance, ruling on The Department’s application to review the decision on registering the applicants in the Register of Residents due to newly discovered circumstances, ruled to remove them from the Register. This was subsequently quashed by an appeal to the Vidzeme Regional Court by the applicants in 1997.

In 1996 the second and third applicants obtained Russian citizenship. In 1998, the applicants claimed that they had a right to obtain permanent resident permits under the Russian-Latvian Agreement. The first applicant contended to be entitled to the status of a ‘permanently resident non-citizen’ under the Non-Citizens Act. The First Instance Court held that the applicants were entitled to these permits as set out. The Directorate appealed the case to the Regional Court, which was dismissed. The case was then appealed to the Senate of the Supreme Court.

On 12 April 2000, the Senate of the Supreme Court considered that covertly obtaining passports and being registered as residents in two violated the Latvian domestic immigration law. The Senate also referred to s.1(3) subparagraph 5 of the Non-Citizens Act, which provides that a non-citizen status cannot be applied to persons who, on 1 July 1992, have their place of residence registered in one of the Commonwealth of Independent States (oh which Russia is), setting aside the judgment and dismissing a further appeal in April 2000.

 On 11 November 2003, The Directorate sent a letter to all three applicants outlining the steps which needed to be taken to regularise their status in Latvia, resulting in the first applicant being listed in the Register as a ‘stateless person’ and the second and third applicants be issued with temporary residence permits. The applicants did not do as was necessary to comply with the regularisation requests and argued for the first applicant to be granted the status of ‘permanently resident non-citizen’ and the second and third applicants with permanent residence permits. The Directorate reiterated their original regularisation offer, which the applicants did not follow.

The applicants lodged an application with the Court, alleging a violation of Article 8 of the Convention.

 In addition, in 2002, the first applicant was subject to questioning by the police relating to her application to the Court and on the information given to journalists regarding bribery of the Directorate. 

The applicants brought an additional claim that this questioning constituted an interference with the exercise of their right of individual petition, under Article 34 of the Convention. The Russian Government claimed it was exercising its right to intervene in the proceedings as a third party.

Decision & Reasoning

On the complaint under Article 8 of the Convention:

 The Court relied on the Convention’s subsidiary function to reiterate that Article 8 cannot be construed as guaranteeing the right to a particular type of residence permit. 

 The Court did not find it necessary to reach a conclusion on the question of the applicants’ ability to claim to be ‘victim’ and focused on the question under Article 37 § 1 (b) of the Convention. This was in relation to whether the matter had been resolved to strike out the application. The Court assessed under this provision whether the risk of the applicants' being deported persists and then whether the measures taken by the authorities constitute sufficient redress for the applicants' complaint.

The Court held that the Directorate's letter would allow the first applicant to obtain an identity document for a person with stateless status and a permanent residence permit. For the two other applicants, it was held that five-year temporary residence permits, which they could then subsequently apply for long-term permanent permits would be available. The Court ruled that the applicants did not face any real and imminent risk of deportation.

 The Court held the measures indicated by the Government would enable the applicants to remain in Latvia and to exercise their right to respect for their private and family life as protected by Article 8 of the Convention freely in that country. The actions taken by the Latvian authorities to regularise the applicants' situation was found to be adequate and sufficient to remedy their complaint.

The Court found the conditions for the application of Article 37 § 1 (b) of the Convention to be met are met and the complaint considered to be “resolved”. The application was struck out accordingly in so far as it relates to Article 8 of the Convention.


On the complaint under Article 34 of the Convention:

The Court, in being unable to identify official evidence of the interview, utilised the two available documents: the recollection from of the first applicant’s memory and a letter from the head of security police outlining the intentions for the interview. 

 The Court noted following the applicant’s comments of corruption, the security police acted in accordance with national legislation to investigate this alleged offence. 

 In regard to the content of the conversation between the security officer and the first applicant, the Court doubted the necessity and relevance of the questions regarding the first applicant’s reasoning for bringing proceedings before the Court and noted the officer exceeded the remit of the investigation by a considerable margin.

 However, the Court reiterated that in determining whether a State has failed in its obligations under Article 34, all the circumstances of the case must be considered. 

 The Court noted of relevance the fact that the Latvian authorities did not attempt to summon the applicant a second time or force the applicant to give evidence to any parts of the interview. The Court observed and found it relevant that the language used by the police officer was polite and did not contain any expressions, references, or insinuations of a threatening or even a dissuasive nature.

 Finally, the Court considered that it must take the interview in the wider context of which it took place and distinguished the present case from those where the questioning of applicants by authorities about their applications the Court has found to be in breach of their obligations under Article 34 (Akdeniz and Others v. Turkey, no. 23954/94, § 118, 31 May 2001). 

 The Court found there to be insufficient evidence to conclude that the questioning of the first applicant by an officer of the security police could be regarded as a form of “pressure”, “intimidation” or “harassment” which might affect their petition to the Court.

 The Court also rejected the claims of alleged interceptions with telephone conversations and other implied coercive measures by the Latvian authorities.

 Consequently, the Court held that the respondent State had not failed to comply with its obligations under Article 34 of the Convention.


The Court held by sixteen votes to one that the matter giving rise to the applicants' complaint under Article 8 of the Convention had been resolved.

The Court unanimously held that the respondent Government has not failed to comply with its obligations under Article 34 of the Convention.

Caselaw cited

K. and T. v. Finland [GC], no. 25702/94, §§ 140-141, ECHR 2001-VII
Göç v. Turkey [GC], no. 36590/97, §§ 35-37, ECHR 2002-V
Perna v. Italy [GC], no. 48898/99, §§ 23-24, ECHR 2003-V
Azinas v. Cyprus [GC], no. 56679/00, § 32, ECHR 2004-III

Amuur v. France, judgment of 25 June 1996, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1996-III, p. 846, § 36;
Dalban v. Romania [GC], no. 28114/95, § 44, ECHR 1999-VI
Labita v. Italy [GC], no. 26772/95, § 142, ECHR 2000-IV
Ilaşcu and Others v. Moldova and Russia [GC] (dec.), no. 48787/99, 4 July 2001
Eckle v. Germany 15 July 1982 (Series A no. 51)
Pančenko v. Latvia (dec.), no. 40772/98, 28 October 1999
Mikheyeva v. Latvia (dec.), no. 50029/99, 12 September 2002
Yang Chun Jin alias Yang Xiaolin v. Hungary (striking out), no. 58073/00, §§ 20-23, 8 March 2001
Fjodorova and Others v. Latvia (dec.), no. 69405/01, 6 April 2006
Vijayanathan and Pusparajah v. France judgment (27 August 1992, Series A no. 241-B, p. 87, §§ 46-47
Slivenko v. Latvia judgment ([GC], no. 48321/99, ECHR 2003-X
García Ruiz v. Spain [GC], no. 30544/96, §§ 28-29, ECHR 1999-I
Swedish Engine Drivers' Union v. Sweden, judgment of 6 February 1976, Series A no. 20, p. 18, § 50
Chapman v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 27238/95, § 91, ECHR 2001-I
Aristimuño Mendizabal v. France, no. 51431/99, § 66, 17 January 2006
Dremlyuga v. Latvia (dec.), no. 66729/01, 29 April 2003
Gribenko v. Latvia (dec.), no. 76878/01, 15 May 2003
Nsona v. the Netherlands 28 November 1996, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1996-V Brumărescu v. Romania [GC], no. 28342/95, § 50, ECHR 1999-VII
Norris v. Ireland, judgment of 26 October 1988, Series A no. 142, pp. 15-16, §§ 30-31
Otto-Preminger-Institut v. Austria, judgment of 20 September 1994, Series A no. 295-A, pp. 15-16, § 39
Amuur v. France, judgment of 25 June 1996, Reports 1996-III, p. 846, § 36
Dalban v. Romania [GC], no. 28114/95, § 44, ECHR 1999-VI~
Labita v. Italy [GC], no. 26772/95, § 142, ECHR 2000-IV
Ilaşcu and Others v. Moldova and Russia [GC] (dec.), no. 48787/99, 4 July 2001
Pellumbi v. France (dec.), no. 65730/01, 18 January 2005
Etanji v. France (dec.), no. 60411/00, 1 March 2005
Kalantari v. Germany (striking out), no. 51342/99, §§ 55-56, ECHR 2001-X
Mehemi v. France (no. 2), no. 53470/99, § 54, ECHR 2003-IV
Andrić v. Sweden (dec.), no. 45917/99, 23 February 1999
Benamar and Others v. France (dec.), no. 42216/98, 14 November 2000
Djemailji v. Switzerland (dec.), no. 13531/03, 18 January 2005
Yildiz v. Germany (dec.), no. 40932/02, 13 October 2005
Boughanemi v. France, judgment of 24 April 1996, Reports 1996-II, pp. 607-08, § 35
C. v. Belgium, judgment of 7 August 1996, Reports 1996-III, pp. 922-23, § 25
Boujlifa v. France, judgment of 21 October 1997, Reports 1997-VI, p. 2263, § 36
Buscemi v. Italy, no. 29569/95, § 53, ECHR 1999-VI
Fedotova v. Russia, no. 73225/01, §§ 48-52, 13 April 2006
Akdivar and Others v. Turkey, judgment of 16 September 1996, Reports 1996-IV, p. 1219, § 105
Kurt v. Turkey, judgment of 25 May 1998, Reports 1998-III, p. 1192, § 159
Ergi v. Turkey, judgment of 28 July 1998, Reports 1998-IV, p. 1784, § 105
Salman v. Turkey [GC], no. 21986/93, § 130, ECHR 2000-VII
Petra v. Romania, judgment of 23 September 1998, Reports 1998-VII, pp. 2854-55, § 43
Assenov and Others v. Bulgaria, judgment of 28 October 1998, Reports 1998-VIII, p. 3304, § 170
Tanrıkulu v. Turkey [GC], no. 23763/94, § 130, ECHR 1999-IV
Orhan v. Turkey, no. 25656/94, § 409, 18 June 2002
Bilgin v. Turkey, no. 23819/94, § 133, 16 November 2000
Dulaş v. Turkey, no. 25801/94, § 79, 30 January 2001
Akdeniz and Others v. Turkey, no. 23954/94, § 118, 31 May 2001
Michael Edward Cooke v. Austria, no. 25878/94, § 48, 8 February 2000
Gusinskiy v. Russia (no. 70276/01, §§ 70-78, ECHR 2004-IV