Sunday 18 February 2018

Russian man (76) who claims he was born here during WW2 not entitled to Irish citizenship, court rules

The Four Courts, Dublin
The Four Courts, Dublin

Aodhan O Faolain

The Court of Appeal has overturned a ruling that a 76 year old Russian man who claimed he was born in Dublin during World War 2 is entitled to Irish citizenship.

The High Court had ruled in 2015 that Sergey Chesnokov had established that he was born in in Dublin's Henrietta Street in September 1940 and directed that his birth be registered here, entitling him to citizenship.

Today the appeal court found that the documentary evidence did not support Mr Chesnokov's claim of being born in Ireland and overturned the High Court's decision.

He had brought High Court an action against An tArd-Chlaraitheoir the Registrar General), who has responsibility for the registration of deaths, births and marriages  who had refused to register him as having being born in Ireland.

After assessing the evidence, including documents supporting his claim of an Irish birth, the High Court found that Mr Chesnokov was born in Ireland, and was entitled to have his birth registered here.

The Registrar appealed that finding, which Mr Chesnokov's lawyers had opposed.

In it's judgment, delivered on Friday morning, the three judge court of Appeal unanimously upheld the appeal.  Mr Chesnokov was not present in court for the decision.

In her judgment Ms Justice Mary Irvine said the evidence submitted by Mr Chesnokov was "not adequate to establish as a matter of probability that he was born on the date and at the location alleged so as to warrant the registration of his birth as having so occurred."

The judge also found that Mr Chesnokov's appeal against the Registrar General's original decision not to register his  birth had been brought out of time.

In his judgment Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said the case had raised a number of "unusual features". However he was satisfied that An tArd-Chlaraitheoir was entitled, on the documentary evidence produced, to reach the conclusion Mr Chesnokov had not established on the balance of probabilities that he was born in Dublin in 1940.

The Judge said he disagreed with the High Court's conclusions had drawn from the documentary record produced in support of Mr Chesnokov's claim. It was for that reason and that reason alone the Judge said why the appeal should be allowed.

Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan agreed with both judgments. As a result the decision the High Court's order that Mr Chesnokov's birth be registered here is to be vacated.

The matter was adjourned for a week to allow both parties consider the decision.

Mr Chesnokov's son now resides in Ireland and he had sought Irish citizenship so he could travel here and be involved with the life of his grandchild. In his application he also gave an undertaking not to apply for any social welfare payments from the Irish state.

Mr Chesnokov said he was born in Ireland in late September 1940 in a room at 5 Henreitta Street. His aunt was the only person present with his mother Liubov at the time of the birth.

He claims his aunt and mother came to Ireland from England during the London Blitz.

Shortly after Mr Chesnokov's birth his mother and aunt returned to the then USSR. 

His birth was registered with the Soviet authorities in October 1940, but was not registered with the Irish authorities because of his parent's fears it might be seen as anti-Soviet.

It was not known why his mother had been in the UK, how she came to Ireland or how she returned to the Soviet Union.

Mr Chesnokov claimed that all his official documentation including his trade union card, passport, marriage and drivers licence recorded his place of birth as being Dublin, Ireland.

There was also declarations from family and friends of Mr Chesnokov's family to support his claim.

After assessing the evidence the High Court found in 2015 that Mr Chesnokov was born in Ireland, and was entitled to have his birth registered here.

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