Ravozzaev still in detention as first anniversary of Kyiv abduction approaches


A Moscow court has again extended the detention order on Leonid Razvozzhaev, the leftwing Russian activist who was abducted from the centre of Kyiv on 17 October last year while in the process of applying for political asylum.

The court allowed the application from the investigator who asserted that Razvozzhaev could attempt to hide or exert pressure on the court.  The defence had asked for his release on bail or house arrest.

Leonid Razvozzhaev had stepped out of the offices of the UNHCR partner organization where he was making his asylum application when he was abducted in broad daylight.  He was seen being forced into a car with Ukrainian number plates, and two days later, on Oct. 19, appeared in a Moscow court.  The claim in Moscow was that Razvozzhaev had “handed himself in”, however he managed to shout out in the court that he had been tortured. He reiterated this to human rights representatives

The charges have varied over the last year, but he now again appears to be in custody accused of organizing the Bolotnaya Square protest on 6 May 2012.  These charges appear to be based on allegations made on a television programme on the pro-Kremlin NTV channel.

At least until recently Razvozzhaev was also accused of illegally crossing the border between Ukraine and Russia. This charge conflicts with information from the Ukrainian side which confirmed his having crossed the border, suggesting that he did so under his own name.

The promises from the Ukrainian authorities to investigate the abduction were clearly made to keep the press at bay until the story was forgotten.  This is despite the obvious violation by Ukraine of its international commitments since Razvozzhaev had already begun asylum procedure.  

As reported, the UNHCR was swift in issuing a strong statement of protest.  The Ukrainian authorities said nothing and have never made any protest.  The Human Rights Ombudsperson, according to a news report, asked the authorities for information but then consistently ignored questions regarding their response.  Valeria Lutkovska was equally unforthcoming over the forced return of another asylum seeker to the Russian Federation in August 2012.

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