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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid