Aleksej Hramenkov is a man caught between his past and his future. An ethnic Russian who grew up in Latvia without any official citizenship, he moved to Sweden in 1998.
But after making a life for himself in Sweden, with a job and a house in the south-eastern Swedish town of Tibro, he is now being deported.
Hramenkov’s only valid passport is a temporary Latvian “aliens passport”. His old passport has been confiscated by the Swedish Migration Board.
“He’s a foreigner wherever he goes. His passport has the same name as an extra-terrestrial,” Hramenkov’s sister Jana told Dagens Nyheter.
Hramenkov grew up in Latvia but does not have a Latvian passport. According to Latvian law, to become a citizen it is necessary to pass an exam based on the country’s general knowledge and to speak Latvian fluently.
Almost 20 percent of Latvia’s inhabitants are Russians who have no citizenship, be it Latvian or Russian. Many of these “non-citizens” fled from the former Soviet Union and have no right to vote in Latvia.
According to Swedish law, if someone has lived legally in Sweden for over five years, then he or she should have the same rights for permanent residency as any other other EU national.
But Sweden’s Migration Board says that Aleksej Hramenkov would have to prove he was an EU national and had lived for at least five years in Latvia. He is unable to meet this requirement.
Inger Lagerström of the Swedish Migration Board told Dagens Nyheter that he would have received Swedish residency if he could have proven his Latvian citizenship.
Lagerström admitted that the rules were rather complicated, but that they would be changed in mid-September.
Aleksej Hramenkov’s sister and parents have lived in Sweden since 2004 when Latvia became part of the EU. Their residency is not an issue as they all have Latvian citizenship.