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24.10.2012

Ukraine – no safe place for refugees

   

 And with Russia increasingly dangerous for members of the opposition, this new style of abduction and removal without going through any extradition procedure is extremely worrying.

Ukraine’s Border Guard Service has now joined the SBU [Security Service] in denying any complicity in the forced removal to Russia of Russian opposition activist Leonid Razvozzhaev. They claim that the latter gave no indication that he was returning under duress  However RIA Novosti reports an enforcement body official as saying that Leonid Razvozzhaev was not taken back to Moscow by plane.  He refused to give any other information. 

In Moscow Leonid Razvozzhaev has now also been charged, together with Konstantin Lebedev with organizing mass disturbances. He was visited on Tuesday by the Human Rights Ombudsperson, Vladimri Lukin and human rights activists from the Public Supervisory Committee.  Razvozzhaev has withdrawn his “confession” which he says was made under severe psychological pressure.

He told the members of the Public Committee that four men had dragged him into a min-van, taped up his arms and legs with scotch tape and put a hat on him so that he couldn’t see anything. He didn’t eat for three days, wasn’t given the chance to go to the toilet and they tried to get what they needed from him.

As reported, the Left Front activist was abducted outside the UNHCR in Kyiv where he was asking for political asylum.  On Monday the Russian investigators claimed that Mr Razvozzhaev had “handed himself in” on Sunday in Moscow. They allege that he “confessed” although an Internet video shows him stating that he was tortured for two days. .

Leonid Razvozzhaev had sought political asylum on Friday and had even left his personal things in the UNHCR office in Kyiv while he went out for a break when he was abducted.

The alleged “confession” is of particular concern since the criminal prosecution is based on material broadcast in the second instalment of an anti-opposition programme on the now pro-Kremlin NTV.  The whole exercise would appear to be aimed at stamping down on the opposition in Russia, since the third person implicated in this TV-prompted criminal investigation is the prominent opposition activist Sergei Udaltsov.  Whether to divide the opposition and raise suspicions as to why he has been favoured, or for some other reason, Udaltsov is the only one of the three who has not been remanded in custody.  Konstantin Lebedev was remanded in custody for at least 2 months on 17 October, and now Leonid Razvozzhaev has been jailed for a similar period. 

All three men could face 10 year prison sentences if convicted.

Protests are going on in Russia in support for all three men.

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