22.10.2012 | Halya Coynash

Russian activist abducted in Kyiv, jailed in Moscow


  Russian opposition activist Leonid Razvozzhaev has been remanded in custody for two months just two days after being abducted in broad daylight from outside the UNHCR Office in Kyiv. Razvozzhaev had just lodged an application for political asylum.  There would seem very little doubt that this brazen behaviour in breach of international law was carried out with at very least the knowledge of the Ukrainian SBU or Security Service.   

According to Russian MP Ilya Ponomaryov, Razvozzhaev had been in Kyiv since 17 October and decided to seek political asylum after learning on Friday that he had been placed on the international wanted list.  He left for Ukraine soon after being taken in for questioning in Moscow, together with fellow Left Front activists Sergei Udaltsov and Konstantin Lebedev.  A criminal case has been launched after the second part of an anti-opposition programme – Anatomy of a Protest, Part 2 was broadcast by the pro-Kremlin TV channel NTV.  The programme has been slammed as a flagrant cut and paste attempt to pour dirt on the opposition and analysts had already spoken of plans to prepare material to demonstrate the scam.  The authorities, however, leapt in first with the law enforcement agencies acting on the programme’s allegations that members of the opposition were working with Georgia in an attempt to overthrow the government.  Sergei Udaltsov is presently under a signed undertaking not to leave Moscow, while Konstantin Lebedev was immediately remanded in custody for at least two months. He is charged with plotting to organize mass riots and could face a 10-year prison sentence.

Razvozzhaev was not on the wanted list when he entered Ukraine but was clearly under surveillance in Kyiv and was grabbed after lodging his application with the UNHCR.  Cries for help were heard after he left the building and he would seem to have been thrust into a car without number plates.  From then on all contact was lost until Sunday when Ilya Ponomaryov reported that the Basmanny Court in Moscow had remanded Leonid Razvozzhaev in custody for two months.  To compound the lawlessness still further, the court hearing on his remand in custody took place without his lawyer being present.  Violetta Volkova will only be allowed to see her client on Monday.

According to MP Ponomaryov, Razvozzhaev was taken to Moscow by private plane.  The lawyer provided by the UNHCR in Kyiv immediately demanded that the Ukrainian police look for her client and it was reported that they were doing so.  It would strain credulity too much, however, to believe that the Ukrainian authorities were not involved in at least expediting Razvozzhaev’s abduction.  His forced return to Russia flagrantly runs counter to international agreements on asylum seekers and extradition. 

The Internet publication reports that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met his Ukrainian counterpart in Kyiv on Friday.  It was announced that day that President Yanukovych would be meeting Putin on 22 October.  The Ukrainian media reported that the meeting was to discuss gas.  Any agreement would clearly be a coup on the eve of the elections.  Both sides are fully aware of this, and seem little concerned about such niceties as democratic standards for free elections, reasonable grounds for criminal prosecution and imprisonment and international agreements to which both countries are signatories. 

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