Several "brides" did not know they became wives of Azeri men
In the beginning of the year, law-enforcement bodies of the Surovikinsky district of the city of Volgograd evinced interest in the information about dozens of local women marrying men from Azerbaijan. The investigation showed, new families did not actually exist, all marriages were false. The reason of numerous weddings became clear soon: Caucasian men simply wanted to obtain the status of a Russian Federation citizen. Azerbaijan males gave a sack of potatoes or coal to their Russian "wives" for such services. Someone even paid 500 or 1,000 rubles. However, police officers say, several women did not even know that they had become wives.
"Contracting a marriage with Russian women was one of the easiest ways to obtain the Russian citizenship for male residents of former Soviet republics," - investigator of the Volgograd Office of the Public Prosecutor Alexander Kim says. "However, this practice is not actual anymore, because the present law has complicated the process for obtaining the Russian citizenship."
The new law about citizenship came into legal effect on July 1st, 2002. The law put an end to false marriages practiced in Volgograd. However, there were certain reasons to call several officials into criminal account and to deprive several foreigners of the illegally obtained status of a Russian citizen.
"On May 21st 2003, we instituted forgery proceedings," Alexander Kim says. "The investigation revealed more than 20 occasions of false marriages in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Several "brides" did not even know they were getting married, because marriage certificates were registered without their knowledge. Furthermore, two women already had legal husbands."
The "brides," as well as the "grooms," were from 20 to 50 years old. Having obtained a stamp in the passport, false husbands registered the new citizenship and left the Surovikinsky district. After that, they settled in Volgograd and established their businesses without any fear of being deported. According to Alexander Kim, no one of them was implicated in criminal activities. Local police department has not identified the whereabouts of each false husband yet: many of them have left to other Russian regions.
Before bringing criminal charges against a certain official, police officers will have to do a lot of work. Employees of the local marriage registration office say, every marriage was contracted only in bride and groom's presence, at their mutual consent. The Office of the Public Prosecutor has other information on the issue, which has to be confirmed with a handwriting expertise. In addition, the investigation is being conducted in the Surovikinsky Police Department as well. "Citizenship certificates were issued in the police department," Alexander Kim said.
The local Office of the Public Prosecutor believes, the investigation will be over by the end of the year. For the time being, the court is preparing lawsuits to invalidate eleven marriages. The investigator believes, it is the first step to deprive false husbands of the Russian citizenship.