Last week, the Moscow City Court ruled to extradite to Belarus an anti-fascist from the city of Brest Andrei Kazimirov. Back in Belarus, Kazimirov is facing criminal charges for alleged rioting. He is facing from three to eight years custodial sentence.
“The Moscow City Court considered the complaints of Kazimirov and his defenders against the decisions of the Deputy Chief Prosecutor of the Russian Federation to extradite Kazimirov to the competent authorities of Belarus. […] The court ruled to recognize the decision of the Deputy Prosecutor General as legal and justified,” the press service of the court said.
According to the Telegram channel of ABC Belarus, at the end of August 2020, security officials from the Brest branch of the Investigative Committee visited Kazimirov and invited him for interrogation. Andrei was suspected of participating in mass riots during the nationwide mass protests triggered by the fraudulent presidential elections last year. Following the interview, he was released, but under the condition not to leave the country.
Fearing persecution, Kazimirov moved to Russia. He was detained in mid-January 2021 in Moscow at the request of the Belarusian authorities and sent to a pre-trial detention centre to await the outcome of his extradition case.
Following the Moscow court’s verdict, Kazimirov’s lawyers announced that they will challenge it and file a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in hope that the ECHR will rule that the extradition presents a threat to life.
In November 2020, four Belarusian anarchists: Dmitry Dubovsky, Igor Olinevich, Sergei Romanov and Dmitry Rezanovich, were detained while attempting to cross the border. Belarusian authorities claim that firearms, ammunition, grenades and pepper spray were found in their belongings. The four were subsequently charged with art. 289 (terrorism) and art. 295 (illegal arms trafficking) of the Belarusian Criminal Code. These charges are potentially punishable by death.
Another protester, Vitold Ashurak, died while in custody on 21st May, while serving a five-year sentence for his participation in the anti-government protests. The cause of his death remains undetermined.
The ECHR case will, hopefully, allow Kazimirov to remain in the Russian Federation for a few more months before his possible extradition.
Kazimirov is one of many Belarusian protesters in Russia whose extraditions are sought by the authorities of the neighbouring “republic”. The government of Alexander Lukashenko previously demanded from Russia to hand over the administrator of the opposition Telegram-chat “Lida for Life” Nikolai Davidchik, mixed martial arts fighter Alexei Kudin, and others.
Last year’s protests in Belarus saw some 7000 people detained by the authorities. Hundreds are currently held in Belarusian prisons over their involvement in opposition to the regime of Lukashenko. They are frequently subjected to mistreatment and torture, and, according to press reports, are forced to wear yellow tags sewn on their clothes, in order to single them out for “particularly harsh prison conditions.”
Image via Avtonom.