Can you please just clarify two things:
1. that it is definitely the case that even if my client's husband applies for permanent residency in Russia, he cannot issue a petition for divorce against my client because she is living in England and her property is here?
2. Even if the husband is somehow able to petition for divorce in Russia, do the Russian courts have jurisdiction to deal with the division of any foreign property based abroad (i.e. in England)?
Thank you so much for your assistance.
According to the article 4 of the July 25th 2002 Law of the Russian Federation Regarding Judicial Rights of Foreign Citizens Residing in the Russian Federation, which will be active starting November 1st, 2002, foreign citizens (those who permanently live in Russia, in other words, permanent residents), have the same rights and have the same responsibilities as those of the Russian citizens, except the cases defined by the Federal Law (similar norm is mentioned in the part 3 of article 62 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation).
Currently active law from June 24th, 1981 says about this in even more concrete terms. According to the article 21, foreign citizens have a right to ask for a court or government assistance to protect their private, family, and family related rights. During the court proceedings, foreign citizens have the same rights as Russian citizens.
Therefore, if your client's husband gets a permission to live in Russia (i.e. permanent residence status), he can apply to courts and other government organs.
Family Law of the Russian Federation also allows divorce of such marriages, however according to the article 117 of the Civil Processual Codex of the Russian Federation, the suit should be filed in the court local to the place of living of the individual. According to the part 2 of article 118 of the Civil Processual Codex of the Russian Federation, the law suit against a defendant who does not reside in Russia can be filed in the court local to the location of the defendant's property or to his/her last known place of living in Russia. Since your client does not relate to Russia in any way, I believe it is unlikely that a law suit against her can be filed in a Russian court.