Available. Russian law (MVD Order no. 965, dated November 1, 2001) mandates that the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) provide police certificates both to Russian citizens and to foreigners who have lived or are living in Russia. The law states that in Russia, MVD offices must provide the certificate within 30 days. Those residing outside of Russia, both Russian citizens and non-citizens, may either delegate a Power-of-Attorney to apply for the certificate on their behalf in Russia, or apply directly to the Russian Consulate. Police certificates should note all names that the person has used in Russia, and should note the MVD branches in all locations that were queried.
Federal and more serious criminal records in Russia are kept at the Main Information Center (MIC), while convictions related to minor offenses (interpreted as when the punishment was to to 3 years of imprisonment) are stored in the local police (militia) archives. Court records are generally available upon a request from the individual. Prison records are generally not available.
Under Russian law, a prior conviction is expunged from the MIC's databank after a specified period of time has passed following the completion of the sentence. For "grave" crimes the period is six years; for "especially grave" crimes it is eight years. Thus, if an applicant committed a grave crime and more than six years have passed since the completion of his/her sentence, the MIC will not show a record of this crime.
In the absence of a Russian police certificate, and when dealing with applicants who could have theoretically served prison time more than eight years prior to the date of IV application, key features to look for are knuckle tattoos. Russian prison culture is vibrant and unique to itself; tattoos serve a role of establishing rank and status, and it is quite common for males to have served time in prison to have such markings.