Calls for release of mandate refugee Denis Solopov
On 20 June, International Refugee Day, human rights activists and artists picketed the Prosecutor General’s Office demanding the release from detention of Moscow artist and civic activist, Denis Solopov.
As reported, Denis Solopov was an active participant in last year’s protests against the felling of Khimki Forest in the Moscow Region in order to build a highway.
He came to Ukraine in search of asylum fleeing what he considers persecution by the Russian authorities. The Kyiv Office of the UNHCR, after looking at his documents, gave him mandate refugee status. However on 2 March he was remanded in custody following an extradition request from the Russian authorities. He has been held since then in the Lukyanivsk SIZO [remand unit].
The picketers are gathering signatures for a petition to the Prosecutor General and the Human Rights Ombudsperson. The petition calls on them to recognize that Denis Solopov cannot be extradited and to refuse the Russian application and release Denis. Through slogans and performances, they stressed the danger Denis Solopov would be in if returned and demanded his release. Watched by passers-by and employees of the Prosecutor General’s Office looking out of their windows, a video strip “Mobilization” about Denis Solopov’s case was shown.
Human rights activist Mykhailo Kamenyev believes such protests can have an effect. He stresses that only the Prosecutor General’s Office can now decide. He adds that Ukrainian legislation with regard to extradition procedure is extremely equivocal and confused. Furthermore the Ukrainian authorities, in breach of the recommendations of European institutions and organizations, abuse remand in custody and use it not as an exceptional measure, but as the usual preventive measure.
According to the UNHCR Office in Ukraine, most applications for refugee status are rejected by the migration service without proper and thorough consideration of the merits of each case. There have been cases where refugees and asylum seekers have been sent back to their country of origin
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