Charges and questions multiply in the Razvozzhaev case


On 4 December the Russian Federation Investigation Committee posted notification of another charge against Leonid Razvozzaev, the Left Front activist who was abducted in Kyiv while in the process of seeking asylum and forcibly returned to Russia. 

The report states that the Investigation Committee has initiated a criminal case against Razvozzhaev under Article 322 § 1 of the Criminal Code (unlawful crossing of the Russian Federation’s State border).

“According to the investigators, on 15 October 2012 Razvozzaev, knowing that he was being checked in connection with facts set out in the documentary film “Anatomy of protest – 2” and realizing that the result of such a check could be a criminal case against him, decided to avoid being prosecuted and hide from the Russian investigators. Wishing to deceive the law enforcement bodies, Razvozzhaev bought a train ticket to Kyiv in Ukraine using his brother’s passport, and crossed the Russian Federation’s State border without valid documents giving him the right to leave the country. In view of the fact that this category of criminal cases is not within the jurisdiction of the Investigation Committee, the latter has applied to the Prosecutor General’s Office to instruct it to investigate this criminal case”.

The questions are certainly mounting. 

Leonid Razvozzhaev had indeed been questioned over the said “documentary”, however was not under any restraint measure.   Nor does he need a document entitling him to leave the country.  In the case of Ukraine, he needs only his Russian passport.

Since the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office has confirmed in a letter to the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union that L.N. Razvozzhaev crossed Ukraine’s border back to Russia from the Kharkiv region, it is likely that they can trace where he entered Ukraine from Russia.  It seems unlikely that the Ukrainian authorities, already castigated for their role over this affair, would have been silent if he had entered the country using his brother’s passport.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office has also confirmed that there was no extradition request from the Russian authorities.

Instead there was a man in Kyiv on 17 October who was seeking asylum with a Kyiv office authorized by the UNHCR.   He was heard and seen protesting as he was bundled into a car, and next appeared in a Moscow court.  The investigators’ claim that he had “handed himself in” and “confessed” to “crime” No. 1 (organizing mass riots, based on a film shown on the pro-Kremlin NTV channel) were refuted immediately by Leonid Razvozzhaev himself, not to mention the circumstances. 

The addition of a 15-year-old criminal case, on the verge of being time-barred, and never pursued for lack of evidence and now a new charge, raise one last, admittedly rhetorical question. Who is trying to deceive whom – so very ineptly?

(Halya Coynash)

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