News / Europe

Report: Ex-Soviet States Return People to Torture in Central Asia

FILE - Russian opposition activist Leonid Razvozzhayev is escorted into a court room in Moscow, Russia,  April 1, 2013. Amnesty International says he was abducted by Russian state security agents operating in Ukraine.
FILE - Russian opposition activist Leonid Razvozzhayev is escorted into a court room in Moscow, Russia, April 1, 2013. Amnesty International says he was abducted by Russian state security agents operating in Ukraine.
Reuters
Amnesty International accused Russia, Ukraine and the five Central Asian states on Wednesday of colluding in abductions and unlawful transfers of asylum-seekers and refugees back to Central Asia where they faced the risk of torture.

In a report, the London-based human rights group enumerated cases of asylum-seekers in Russia and Ukraine being spirited away from their apartments or picked up on the street and being forcibly flown back to the Central Asian state of Uzbekistan.

In a separate statement, Amnesty said that when intervention of the European Court of Human Rights obstructed the handover of individuals, “cynical subversions of international law” were used to secure the transfer.

“In the name of national security, member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States are increasingly cooperating in returning people to Central Asian countries where they are at real risk of torture or other ill-treatment,” the report said.

Abductions and attempted abductions of asylum-seekers from Central Asia by security services of ex-Soviet states - often operating on each other's territory - was occurring with such regularity that they amounted to a “region-wide extraordinary renditions program,” it said.

Officials in Moscow and Tashkent were not immediately available to comment.

In Ukraine, the state migration service reacted sharply to the charges and denied that Kiev deported refugees.

“Are you asking us to justify ourselves? If they have facts, let them show these facts and we will look at them. We do not deport refugees,” said Sergiy Gunko, the service's spokesman. “It is not the first time that Amnesty International is giving out information that is not quite objective.”

Among cases cited in the report was that of Azamatzhon Ermakov, an Uzbek national, who fled Uzbekistan to Russia in March 2009 after being charged with alleged involvement in extremist religious groups.

After his request for asylum in Russia was turned down, the European Court for Human Rights issued an order requiring Russia to stay his extradition.

He was later detained by Russian police for illegal possession of weapons - though Ermakov said police had planted a grenade on him to support a trumped-up charge.

In January this year Amnesty was told that Ermakov had taken a flight back to the Uzbek capital of Tashkent after being released from detention.

“There is strong circumstantial evidence to indicate that he was abducted following his release from detention and put on a plane back to Uzbekistan,” the report said.

“Twenty years after the break-up of the Soviet Union, old collegiate ties, common institutional cultures and the shared perception across the region of the threat from Islamist extremist groups bind together the successor institutions to the Soviet KGB,” said John Dalhuisen, the group's Europe and Central Asia program director, in a comment issued by Amnesty.

In the past two years, the report said, authorities in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan had particularly intensified their efforts to “forcibly return members, or suspected, members of certain groups to Tajikistan and Uzbekistant notwithstanding the fact that they would face a real risk of torture”.

The report also highlighted the case of a Russian opposition activist, Leonid Razvozzhayev, who disappeared in Kyiv last October after consulting with a partner organization of the United Nations refugee agency.

He is now in Moscow where Russian investigators say he has been charged with preparing mass disorder. The Amnesty report said he had been abducted by Russian state security agents operating in Ukraine.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid