Hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup is a special case for Russian reality and Russian law. Russia has been tightening up on security in all of the regions hosting the World Cup, during which time holding any meetings, demonstrations, marches or protests is prohibited. World Cup participants, official delegations, FIFA personnel, members of the Russia 2018 Local Organizing Committee and reporters covering the matches in the 11 Russian host cities get an exclusive legal status. With the accreditation certificate, they are even allowed to use bus-only lanes.
Russia is increasingly focused on public order and security even when there are no sports events, so it is small wonder that during the international championships certain citizen groups will gain particular attention with the security agencies and controlling authorities. As it turns out, migration rules differ for different groups of foreigners: they have become considerably simpler for some while getting more complicated for many others. The entry, departure and stay regulations in the cities hosting the FIFA World Cup are determined for all foreigners by the purpose of their visit to Russia.
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FAN ID as a ticket to visa-free entry
Foreigners with tickets for the 2018 FIFA World Cup events have been entitled to visa-free entry to Russia since June 4 (10 days before the first match).
According to Federal Law No. 108, Section 7, foreign citizens and persons without citizenship arriving to the cities hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup may enter and exit Russia without a visa if they have a valid international passport and a personal FAN ID. FAN ID is issued in advance with a match ticket or an electronic document that you can use to get an entrance ticket. The right to visa-free entry expires on the last match day, July 15.
After arriving in Russia, all foreign citizens and persons without citizenship must apply to the local migration authority for registration — and not within the usual seven days of entering the country, but within three days. As well, previously it was a requirement that people register in a new Russian city within 24 hours after arrival. For those who know the peculiarities of Russian registration procedures, it is quite evident that obtaining registration within 24 hours may only be possible if you stay at a tourist residence or if you have some good acquaintances in the offices of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. The period of registration was updated in the nick of time: on May 12, 2018, President Vladimir Putin signed Presidential Decree No. 214, which outlines a new three-day registration term for foreigners arriving to the cities hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Players, referees, coaches, FIFA representatives and affiliated organizations, national football associations and other people included in the FIFA lists are a privileged group who do not have to register their stay in the Russian Federation.
Registration of foreign guests staying at hotels and other tourist residences is the responsibility of the host. In all other cases you must submit the required documents personally to the local office of migration registration of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs, whether you have a FAN ID or not. It is not possible to apply for registration through the post office or at a multifunctional service center (MFZ). It is no wonder that the Embassy of Usbekistan in Russia and the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Employment of Population of the Republic of Tajikistan have been advising their citizens coming to Russia for reasons other than the World Cup (who might not have FAN ID) to avoid entering through the 11 host cities from May 25 until July 25. The offices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are well-known for their complicated and time-consuming registration process, but the authorities have promised that registration should take only about 15 minutes.
To apply for registration, foreign citizens will need to produce the following documents: a completed registration confirmation slip, a copy of their passport, and the migration card they receive at passport control upon entering Russia. The migration card is to be handed back at the frontier service when leaving the country. However, the loss of this document does not carry any penalties: a copy of migration card can be issued at the frontier service or at local offices of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs.
Special registration rules for Russian nationals
The terms of migration registration in the cities hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup have changed for Russian citizens as well. According to the presidential decree from May 9, 2017, all Russian nationals must apply for registration at local offices of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs within three days — despite the seven-day term fixed by law. This is required by those who are coming for a few days as well as by those who are coming to the cities in search of permanent residency.
According to the effective rules, Russian citizens are allowed to apply for registration via the website gosuslugi.ru, a portal for state services. Nevertheless, during the World Cup there is no such opportunity for Russian nationals in the 11 cities hosting the championship; every newly arrived Russian citizen must apply for registration personally at the local offices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The exception is applicable only to those Russians staying at the hotels; health resorts; guest houses; holiday, camping or tourist centers of the host cities. In those cases, representatives of the hotels or tourist accommodations are responsible for registering those residents.
The two sides of the 2018 FIFA World Cup
The construction of sports venues for the 2018 World Cup and 2017 Confederations Cup has caused deep concern among civil rights organizations. Last year, Human Rights Watch issued a 46-page report with the catchy title Red Card: Exploitation of Construction Workers on World Cup Sites in Russia. It documents how workers on six World Cup stadium construction sites faced unpaid wages (either in full or in part), poor labor conditions and safety violations, and injuries. The document states that work was carried out in temperatures as cold as -25 degrees Celsius without sufficient protection, and employers failed to provide the work contracts required for legal employment. The strikes organized by the workers in Nizhny Novgorod and Rostov-on-Don were not made public.
At the same time, the positive aspects of the World Cup in Russia cannot be disregarded. Indeed, Rospotrebnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare) has put in order the pricing policy of the hotels and tourist centers in Russia, carried out an inspection looking into overpricing at the hotels in the cities hosting the championship, and opened a hotline for reporting violations. As of March 2018, 438 cases of overpricing hotel services have been detected, subject to penalties from 50,000 rubles up to double the extra earnings. Ninety-four hotels turned out to have no hotel classification certificates, and the Federal Service has imposed administrative penalties in excess of 2.6 million rubles. Considerable fines are also anticipated for illegal, or fake, ticket sales: the infringer can be fined from 50,000 up to 1.5 million rubles, depending on his or her legal status.
Although according to VTsIOM (the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Centre) only 11% of the Russian population believes in the victory of the national team, and the inhabitants and guests of the 11 cities hosting the championship will be having a hard time, it does not affect the enthusiastic expectation of a football celebration. The polls also suggest that 56% of Russians have no doubt that the World Cup will enhance the reputation of the country; only 17% do not share this point of view. Thus, the World Cup in Russia is not only about football — it is also about being able to afford both bread and circuses.