Russian journalist with asylum in Ukraine called in for questioning

Over the last few days various media outlets have had worrying headlines even suggesting that Alexander Kosvintsev, a Russian journalist granted asylum in Ukraine, might have his refugee status removed. On 17 September during a session of the Lviv City Council, a Deputy from the “Pora” party Andriy Bilous read out a statement expressing concern at the actions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA]. The statement reads: “From media reports we have learned that on 14 September in Kyiv, journalist Alexander Kosvintsev was detained.”

Mr Kosvintsev, however, has clarified the situation. He was not detained, but called in for questioning over a criminal investigation initiated in the Russian Federation. “On 14 September I was stopped by the police on the instruction of the Russian law enforcement agencies to interrogate me over a criminal investigation initiated in 2006 in Kemerovo.”

“The case was totally fabricated in order to prevent me from working as a journalist and public figure. I was effectively being “squeezed” out of the region, and they succeeded. They were squeezing me because I wrote a lot about officials, the top management of the local department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Governor, and about their part in corruption scandals.”

Mr Kosvintsev adds: “The Ukrainian police have, in my view and my lawyer agrees, violated Ukrainian legislation over the fact that Ukraine has already granted me refugee status. They took information from me, whereas the Law “On the status of a refugee” prohibits providing the country from which the refugee has come information about him or her. The fact that they are gathering information is entirely illegal. I don’t understand why they are carrying out instructions from Russian law enforcement bodies.”

He says that he has written a statement, addressed to the Head of the Desnyansky District Department of the Kyiv MIA and that he will be taking a copy of the statement to the City Prosecutor and to the State Committee on Nationalities and Religion which includes the Department of the Migration Service. “I hope that these bodies will respond since what has happened is quite unlawful.”

He adds that he is hoping for an adequate reaction from the Minister of Internal Affairs Yury Lutsenko, and believes that public response and the support from Deputies of the Lviv City Council will help. He is sure that Mr Lutsenko will understand that police officers must in the first instance adhere to Ukrainian legislation.

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