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“The Minefield” of Vyacheslav Vysotsky


Preamble: Because the articles below are controversial in nature, exposing as they do a certain inadequacy in the treatment, by Russia, of a former volunteer of the Novorossiya Armed Forces, it seems fitting to provide a preamble that corrects at least some of the misperceptions about how a refugee asylum system is meant to work. The Russian Federal Migration Service does not avoid many of the hurdles and pitfalls faced by asylum claimants across the world. Thus, until reforms were implemented in 2012 to speed up the review of refugee claims, estimated processing time for a single claim in Canada was 1,038 days. Same as in Russia, in Canada the system is comprised of several adjudicative levels, such that appeals and judicial reviews (cassations in Russia) can be taken to different tribunal bodies and courts on specific disputed points.

Both in Canada and in Russia, a negative decision is almost never the end of the road for a refugee claimant. Applicants can seek relief from higher-level adjudicators in case a miscarriage of justice occurred upon initial consideration. Such appeals or cassations are often successful. Critically, applicants must come prepared with arguments, documents, oral evidence, and other relevant proof of persecution in their country of origin if they are to succeed. The initial decision can often be a pro forma, mechanic adjudication. As a result, complex and uncertain claims frequently require intervention from a superior decision-maker. We do not see anything fatal in what has happened to Vyacheslav Vysotskiy, because he will have an opportunity better to prepare and to present his case to a more knowledgeable and thorough adjudicator. It is, however, important that such cases be made public—both to assist the people who valiantly fought for the salvation of the Donbass and to help Russia and her Federal Migration Service avoid miscarriages of justice.

Translated by Alexander Fedotov
Edited by Gleb Bazov / Gracchus Babeuf

An interview with Vyacheslav Vysotsky on the subject of the scandalous case of a Latvian Militiaman who fought for the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), but is now under threat of deportation from Russia to Latvia, where he faces ten years in prison.

“I face ten years in prison for fighting in the Donbass.”

Vyacheslav Vysotsky, a Latvian citizen, went to fight for the LPR Militia in the midst of some of the heaviest battles—in the summer of 2014. While there, he tripped on a landmine, but miraculously survived. Wounded, he went to Russia for medical treatment and to seek temporary asylum. In the meantime, Latvian law enforcement agencies decided to prosecute him on charges of terrorism, and the Russian authorities have indicated that they may deport Vysotsky to his homeland. This conversation with Vysotsky took place immediately after he left the building of the Federal Migration Service (FMS) on Kirpichnaya Street in Moscow. He was denied temporary asylum in Russia and threatened with deportation for violating Russian immigration laws.

Q: Tell us, what is the basis of the Latvian authorities’ charges against you?

VV: While I was in the Donbass, Latvia adopted legislation according to which fighting for the militias of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) or the LPR, as well as humanitarian assistance to these republics, are considered terrorist activities.

Moreover, under this new law, individuals who help volunteers get to these territories from Latvia are deemed to be accomplices of terrorists. My case, of course, fits the provisions of this law, I face up to ten years in prison, and I cannot come back home. The Russian authorities have denied me temporary asylum. This part of it is also quite unfortunate.

Q: Has Latvia issued an international warrant for your arrest?

VV: Not yet, as far as I am aware.

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