The sanctions placed on Russia have created hardship and uncertainty for its citizens. That’s why IE University’s Legal Clinic created a guide to clear up any questions they may have.

The Legal Clinic at IE University handles many pro bono cases, which allows students to gain practical experience while making a positive impact. The clinic is dedicated to providing free legal assistance for non-governmental organizations, vulnerable people and foundations. In parallel, it is also committed to providing accessible information for its students—in this case, its Russian students. 

The Legal Clinic has completed a helpful guide for its Russian community members, advising them on travel, finance and social-media restrictions that have been put in place due to the ongoing conflict with Ukraine. Here, we’ve outlined the main points from the guide. Check it out!

(Find the full guide linked at the end of the article!) 

The Legal Clinic: A “productive and demanding” experience

Adriana Martínez Menéndez, an undergraduate student in the Bachelor of Laws, saw an opportunity to make a direct impact on people’s lives, and instantly joined the Legal Clinic. She had long dreamed of being part of a specific project connected to the Interamerican Court of Human Rights. Luckily, this dream was fulfilled when, through the Legal Clinic, she got the chance to work on a case for the defense of indigenous groups in Ecuador in the very same court.  

Adriana described her experience at the Legal Clinic as productive and demanding. Through the projects she worked on, she provided solutions and defense to vulnerable groups of people while building her teamwork and legal skills. She also had the opportunity to work on creating the guide for Russian citizens, and jumped at the chance to collaborate.

Why a guide for Russians? 

When asked this question, Adriana simply cited transparency of information, a cherished value at the Legal Clinic. The guide deals with crucial information about censorship, restrictions on traveling, and sanctions from financial entities. Our Russian community members need to know this information and may not have access to legal support to help them with it.

Another Bachelor of Laws student who worked on the guide, Sofia Anastasia Farje, explained that it comes down to empathy. “This issue is very important to cover because we perceive the problem, which in this case is the war, but by empathizing with individuals who are affected, we can help and learn a lot,” she said. “I believe it’s important to address immigration, banking, and communication issues because it’s only fair that everyone has the possibility to know how to solve their problems. For those affected by the war, this information is crucial.”

Adriana agreed, adding that Russians have no control over their government’s decisions, and thus should not be seen as the enemy. Our Russian students are valued members of our community, and they deserve legal and social support.

This is what the Legal Clinic at IE University is all about: building bridges, not burning them. 

Downbelow you will find some key takeaways from the Russian guide, summarized by Sofia Anastasia Farje.

Legal guide for Russian citizens: Key takeaways

Foreign transfers

The legal guide lays out all the financial limitations for Russian citizens and residents. While Russian citizens in countries that have not imposed sanctions can transfer foreign currency of up to $5,000 monthly to foreign banks, residents in countries that have imposed sanctions are totally prohibited. However, they can put real estate and shares up for sale.

Restrictions on operating a bank account in the EU

The European Union imposed a limit of €100,000 on deposits made by Russian citizens, residents and legal entities. However, this doesn’t apply to people with dual citizenship or residents of an EU member state. The guide also discusses this as pertinent to Switzerland, which imposed a limit of 100,000 francs.

As long as the €100,000 limit on deposits is not exceeded, though, Russian passport holders and Belarusian residents in the EU can open a bank account. However, the European Central Bank has put surveillance on banks held by these individuals.

Suspension of operations by financial service providers

Many major financial service providers such as Visa and Mastercard have suspended operations in Russia. However, cards issued by Mir (a Russian payment system) still operate with Samsung Pay, and cards of service providers that have suspended operations still operate internally until the card expires.

The guide examines all these points in great detail. It also covers the process of emigration for Russian residents by land, sea, and air; visa applications; the right to asylum; and social media and connectivity.

In addition to Adriana and Sofia, we’d like to thank Polina Matskaia, Maria Khalfun and Sebastián Farje for working tirelessly to make this Russian guide such a success.

Interested in joining the Legal Clinic?

Adriana highly recommends the Legal Clinic to anyone interested, declaring that “there’s no better time than now.” You’ll have the opportunity to meet professionals and students who will help you grow and broaden your mindset, all while helping people in need. She added that being part of the clinic requires a lot of effort—but it’s all worth it. 

Sofia echoed her sentiment, adding an insider tip: take advantage of the opportunity to challenge yourself as much as possible and put your skills to the test. The clinic reflects the reality of the legal sector, so it’s very solid experience for the future. Plus, it’s fun!

To learn more about the legal guide for Russian citizens, click here to download it.