Ukraine’s strange collaboration with Russia over deportations
Ukraine has been in a state of undeclared war with Russia since the latter’s invasion of Crimea in early 2014 and its aggression in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian Security Service [SBU] are not loath at times to make use of this, claiming a ‘Russian link’ where there is almost certainly none. More often, however, they demonstrate a baffling willingness to collaborate with their counterparts in the Russian Federal Security Service [FSB]. Neither the SBU nor Ukraine’s Migration Service have undergone any reform since Euromaidan, which is highlighted by their treatment of Russian asylum seekers.
In September 2016, the SBU effectively abducted 26-year-old Amina Babaeva, who had just applied for asylum in Kharkiv. Babaeva is originally from Dagestan, but had been expelled from Turkey, after the authorities learned that her ex-husband had become involved with ‘so-called Islamic State’. She was deported, but allowed to choose another country rather than Russia. Sadly, her belief that Ukraine could be trusted because of its conflict with Russia proved unfounded. Initial attempts to prevent her entering Ukraine were thwarted by human rights activists, and after almost two days at the airport, Babaeva was freed on September 11. She lodged an asylum application the following day. Migration officials, however, then used various pretexts to keep her in in their offices until the evening when she was abducted, taken by force to the border and handed over to the FSB. The SBU claimed against all evidence that the young woman had voluntarily left for Russia.
The text above was written before Ukraine’s detentions of three journalists – all have been released from custody, yet continue to have the threat of extradition hanging over them.
Fikret Huseynli Journalist facing persecution in Azerbaijan detained in Ukraine
See also information about highly irregular expulsions of Georgian nationals, associated with Mikheil Saakashvili