News / Europe

New Generation of Russian Dissidents Flees to West

New Generation of Russian Dissidents Flees to Westi
X
February 07, 2013 8:43 PM
The return of Vladimir Putin to the presidency last May brought a new conservatism to Russia. VOA's James Brooke reports on the challenges faced by the current generation of Russian dissidents.

Video by Austin Malloy

James Brooke
Last May 6, thousands of Russians protested the inauguration next day of Vladimir Putin as president. Coming as the culmination of six months of protest, Moscow's pre-inaugural demonstration turned violent.

Within weeks, 19 protesters were facing legal charges, and police were investigating half of a newly elected 45-member Opposition Coordination Council.

As the police net tightened, one protest leader, Leonid Razovzzhayev, did something new for this generation of Russian dissidents: he made a run for it. He applied for U.N. refugee status in neighboring Ukraine.

But the same day he applied for refugee status in Kyiv, he stepped out of a law office for coffee. Then he vanished.

A few days later, Razovzzhayev reappeared - in Moscow. As he was being transferred from a prison van to a courtroom, he managed to shout to reporters: "Tell people I was tortured. They promised to kill me. They tortured me for two days. I was kidnapped in Ukraine."

Maksym Butkevych, a Ukrainian human-rights activist, said in Kyiv: “We believe that until we receive at least some clear explanation of what happened to Leonid, we consider him to be abducted.”

“It sends a very clear signal to people who try to get asylum in Ukraine that Ukraine is not a safe country for asylum seekers and refugees. And it is not, I’m afraid,” said Butkevych, who is project coordinator for the No Borders Social Action Center.

Agreement came on Wednesday from Oldrich Andrysek, the regional representative for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. He told reporters in Kyiv: “At this stage, Ukraine cannot be considered a safe country for all refugees.”

In Moscow, Yulia Razozzhayeva worries about her husband, who is now in jail in Irkutsk, in the middle of Siberia.

“I am worried for his life,” she said of her husband. “The harshest pretrial detention center is in Irkutsk, where they can apply physiological and physical torture. Thank God, there hasn’t yet been any physical abuse. But it’s a very harsh pretrial detention facility.”

Russia’s reach goes further than Ukraine.

Last month, Alexander Dolmatov, one of the Moscow protesters, committed suicide in a holding cell near Rotterdam airport. Dutch authorities had just denied his asylum request. His mother says that Russian intelligence agents told Dolmatov, a missile engineer, that he would face treason charges back home.

Another fugitive Russian protester, Anastasia Rybachenko, is more relaxed. She spoke from Estonia, where she is completing her university studies.

“I am not really worried about safety, in terms of a similar situation to the one of Razvozzvhaev,” she said. “Estonia is in the EU, and I don’t think Russia would be able to kidnap anyone from here.”
 
Suren Gazaryan, another member of Estonia’s growing Russian exile community, also feels safe in Estonia. But Gazaryan, an environmentalist, sees little change ahead for Russia.
 
"I think that until this system - Putin's system - ceases to exist, it's very doubtful I will be able to return,” said Gazaryan. “For Russia, however, it will take a long time to become a free country. It has all to do with Putin.”

A prison cell in Siberia?

Or exile in the West?

Russian dissidents faced this choice under the czars, and under the rulers of the Soviet Union.

Now this choice has returned to Russia under President Putin.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid