The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs responded to the request from the Belarusian security officials sent through Interpol and are attempting to deport two Belarusian anarchists: Alexei Bolenkov (known as Max Belorus) and Artur Kondratovich, to their home country.
Alexei Bolenkov came to Ukraine in 2013 to participate in EuroMaidan protests. Fearing persecution, he later decided to stay. Artur Kondratovich was an active participant in the actions against Decree No. 3 (so-called decree “against social parasites”, which introduced a tax on people who are not in full-time employment) in Belarus in 2017. Due to repressions, he moved to Ukraine. In 2020, during the new wave of protests in Belarus following the presidential elections, Bolenkov and Kondratovich took part in numerous solidarity actions and helped political refugees arriving in Ukraine.
Belarusian state attempted to extradite Kondratovich from Ukraine in 2019 by sending a request to Interpol. Subsequently, Kondratovich was arrested in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. He then spent 5 months in detention before the extradition process was suspended due to his ongoing application for political asylum. However, during his imprisonment, Kondratovich’s passport disappeared.
A new phase of the prosecution began in April 2021, when the police came with search warrants to Kondratovich and Bolenkov, under the pretext of investigating criminal cases into alleged attacks by anarchist groups on state institutions.
Immediately after the search, the SBU officers entered Bolenkov’s apartment, refused to show their IDs and tried to take him to the nearest border, that is, to the Belarusian one. If the operation was successful, Bolenkov would be threatened with instant arrest in his homeland, where he could face the fate of another anarchist, Nikolai Dedok, who was tortured by the Belarusian security forces. An impromptu solidarity action organised by his friends and lawyers managed to prevent his deportation.
According to the SBU, Bolenkov poses a threat to the national security of Ukraine, and as such, he was ordered to leave the country within 24 hours. The lawyers decided to appeal this decision, but the judge agreed with the SBU’s narrative. In the judge’s opinion, the national security of Ukraine was threatened by Bolenkov’s anarchist views, specifically his participation in the action against the police, the organisation of actions of solidarity with the Belarusian people, as well as distribution of anarchist literature. To back their claims, the SBU used far-right publications and information from the Belarusian security forces that Bolenkov is a suspect in a criminal case in Belarus.
Additionally, in an attempt to undermine Bolenkov, Ukrainian security officials also raided the home of a young couple Sergei and Ira Ruban. Rubans are close friends and comrades of Kondratovich and Bolenkov. Employees of the Internal Security Department of the SBU conducted a search in their apartment without a warrant, and seized phones, laptops, tablets and flash drives. Following the search, the Rubans were summoned for further interrogation when they were asked about their connections to Bolenkov. Further, the investigator invited them to attend “informal conversations”. Immediately after the interrogation, the Rubans were handed a summons for questioning in the case of the arson of police cars on July 27, 2020 as witnesses.
Now Bolenkov has filed an appeal, but the lawyers fear that the case could be lost without public attention and that he will be deported. Artur Kondratovich is also under threat – he may be denied political asylum under pressure from the SBU.
From 9th to 18th July, Ukrainian anarchists organise a solidarity campaign for Alexey, Artur, Iran and Sergey. For updates, please follow:
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