No safety for Russian opposition figures in Ukraine


Mikhail Maglov from the Russian movement Solidarity is reported on Ukrainsky Tyzhden as saying that the abduction from Ukraine of leftwing activist Leonid Razvozzhaev made it clear that Russian opposition figures cannot feel safe in Ukraine.

“Before the events with Razvozzhaev I felt safe in Ukraine.  Here there’s a contrast – you don’t cross the street when you see a police officer. And there are less police in Ukraine….

However after that incident (the abduction) it became clear that the Russian Security Service are entirely freely at work on Ukrainian territory. And there are no borders if you need to abduct and take a person out”.

Even after a complaint was lodged over the abduction, no criminal proceedings were initiated, he notes.

“For me the question arises – is Ukraine an independent country? And if it has its own security service, who is it working for?”

Leonid Razvozzhaev was abducted in the middle of the day on 17 October 2012 when he stepped out for a break while completing his application for asylum at a Kyiv partner to the UNHCR partner.  He was taken across the border into Russia, where on 19 October a Moscow court remanded him in custody for 2 months, with this later extended.  He had supposedly “handed himself in” and “confessed”, however was able in court to shout out that he had been tortured. He has since retracted the “confession” he says was beaten, threatened and blackmailed out of him.

There had been no extradition request and Razvozzaev was in Ukraine legally.  He was also, effectively, an asylum seeker and therefore under international protection.

The Ukrainian authorities said nothing at the time, and have largely given fob off statements or vague promises of investigations since. Valeria Lutkovska, Human Rights Ombudsperson, was reported as having asked the authorities for information but has since consistently ignored questions regarding their response.  She was just as unforthcoming over the forced return of another asylum seeker to the Russian Federation in August 2012.

The  response from the Interior Ministry was particularly memorable. On 24 October spokesperson Volodymyr Polishchuk announced  that no criminal investigation would be initiated since a foreign national had been abducted by a foreign security service and the latter did not share their information.

The grounds for concern are serious. 

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