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14.03.2008

Centre for Legal Aid clients receive refugee status in Ukraine

   

On 5 March Katerina Dubovik from Belarus and Oleg Kuznetsov from Russia were granted refugee status in Ukraine.

We welcome the decisions taken by the relevant bodies in Ukraine who took into consideration the risk of serious rights violations if these people were sent back to their countries. They are, however, still in a SIZO [remand centre] due to the lack of regulation in legislation regarding by who and by what ruling they should be released. Our lawyers are actively working at present to obtain their release.

Katerina Dubovik

At some unknown date, a criminal enquiry was launched against a number of people including Ms Dubovik’s mother over charges of pimping and human trafficking. The investigation resulted in a conviction on 20 April 2007.

Ms Dubovik had left Belarus with her husband in February 2005 and from that time had lived permanently in Ukraine where her daughter was born.

When detained in Kyiv she was unaware that she was suspected of committing a crime and being sought by the Belarusian law enforcement bodies. She was detained in Kyiv on 26 July 2007.  The following day a court in Kyiv ruled to remand her in custody for forty days awaiting the relevant application by the Belarusian authorities for her extradition in compliance with the 1993 Minsk Convention. At the present time she is being held in SIZO No. 13 in Kyiv.  Ms Dubovik had been placed on the international wanted list on 21 June 2007.

The problems

The threat that torture would be applied during the investigation, as well as the conditions in custody which are in violation of Article 3 of the Convention;

The overt rejection of the right to trial in violation of Article 6 of the Convention;

The lack of effective legal mechanisms for protection against possible extradition in Articles 3 and 6 of the Convention;

Detention and remand in custody in violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention,

The lack of possibility to regularly apply to the court appealing against the need for remand in custody and the lack of right to compensation in violation of Article 5 of the Convention

Oleg Kuznetsov

In Mr Kuznetsov’s case he was aware of a criminal investigation involving him over deals between the closed joint stock company he was Director of and a state enterprise. After his company presented a very large bill for arrears to the state enterprise, the latter, while not disputing the debt, approached the Department for Fighting Organized Crime applying for a criminal investigation to be initiated against Mr Kuznetsov.

At the same time Mr Kuznetsov began receiving threats to his health or life if he insisted on repayment of the debt. The authorities soon began carrying out investigative activities including a search in his absence of the company’s premises and removal of a number of documents.

At a later date, unknown to Mr Kuznetsov at the time of his arrest, the Russian Federation law enforcement authorities passed a decision to declare him accused and remand him in custody. He was placed on the police wanted list.

Due to the threats against both him and his family and the fact that he was often away on business, Mr Kuznetsov brought his wife and daughter to Kyiv for safety. In Ukraine, he learned that on 3 November 2006 the St Petersburg prosecutor’s officer had revoked the previous decision to declare him accused and remand him in custody.

However in April 2007 he learned that on 28 March 2007 another court had revoked this second ruling on an appeal from a Mr A.I. Vatagin.

On 19 July 2007 Mr Kuznetsov was detained in Kyiv by officers of the Department for Fighting Organized Crime.  It transpired that he had been placed on the international wanted list due to suspicions of involvement in fraud on a particularly large scale under Article 159 § 3 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code.  On 20 July a court in Kyiv remanded him in custody for forty days awaiting the relevant application by the Russian authorities for his extradition. He is presently held in SIZO No. 13 in Kyiv

The dangers needing consideration include

the threat of treatment in violation of Article 3 of the Convention;

danger of violation of Article 7 of the Convention

danger of not being safeguarded the right to a fair trial as guaranteed by Article 6 of the Convention

the lack of adequate means of legal defence in Ukraine (Article 13 of the Convention

no provision of access to the court to appeal against the need for remand in custody (Article 5 § 4).

 the lack of right to compensation for remand in custody in violation of Article 5 § 5 of the Convention

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