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02.01.2008

Young Russian political activist detained in Ukraine

   

On 31 December 2007, one of the organizers of the March of those in dissent [Marsh niesoglashnykh] movement in Samara was detained at the Vinnytsa Railway Station by officers of a Ministry of Internal Affairs Department for Fighting Organized Crime in cooperation with the Russian security service.

21-year-old Mikhail Gangan is a member of the National Bolshevik Party (led by Edward Limonov) which is banned in Russia.   He has faced a number of trumped up charges under the Administrative Offences Code for organizing and taking part in non-violence acts of protest.  In 2004 he was one of those arrested and given a three year suspended sentence for seizing a presidential administration reception office.  One of the other 38 activists involved, Vladimir Lind., was recently awarded 15,000 Euro by the European Court of Human Rights who found that Russia had violated three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights: prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to liberty and security and the right to respect for private life.

For taking part in the March of those in dissent in Samara on 18 May 2007 charges were brought against Gangan of supposedly violating the rules of his conditional sentence.  He fled to Ukraine and was sentenced in his absence to three years imprisonment.

Gangan approached the Regional Office of the UN High Commission for Refugees on 10 December and was recognized as a person requiring international protection. He had prepared an application for refugee status in Ukraine which he was planning to submit after the New Year and Christmas Break.

A district court in Vinnytsa is presently considering a police application to keep Gangan in custody pending a decision on his extradition.

The Vinnytsa Human Rights Group sounded the alert today when there were fears that Gangan might simply be handed over to the Russian authorities in violation of Ukrainian and international norms.  However at present it would seem that the correct procedure is being followed, albeit with considerable reluctance to provide Gangan access to his lawyer.

The Vinnytsa Human Rights Group is calling on the Ukrainian authorities to allow Gangan to apply for refugee status in Ukraine and stresses that it would be a violation of Ukraine ’s international commitments were he to be extradited without being given this chance

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