An officer with Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) who fled to Kazakhstan to avoid Moscow’s military mobilization for the war in Ukraine has been ordered back to Russia, the officer’s wife said.
Major Mikhail Zhilin, 36, was taken from Astana, said his wife, Yekaterina Zhilina. He called later to tell her he was in the city of Semey in northeastern Kazakhstan and that authorities were preparing to take him to the border with Russia.
Zhilin managed to send his wife and children to Kazakhstan after Russian President Vladimir Putin in September announced a partial mobilization to beef up Russia’s armed forces fighting in Ukraine.
Zhilin had to cross the border illegally because as an FSB officer he was not allowed to leave the country. He asked for political asylum in Kazakhstan, but his request was rejected and he was arrested.
An appeal against the decision was considered and rejected on December 28 by the Abay regional court, which immediately issued a deportation order.
Yevgeny Zhovtis, director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law (KMBPCh), confirmed that Zhilin was being deported. Zhovtis said the decision violates the convention on the status of refugees of which Kazakhstan is a party.
The convention prohibits the expulsion of refugees or their forced return until their status is determined.
“There are nuances here. In essence, they are now violating the Convention on the Status of Refugees,” said Zhovtis.
Zhovtis also said that Zhilin’s second trial had not taken place before the deportation order. In addition, there are special procedures available, such as applying to the UN Human Rights Committee.
Zhovtis believes that Kazakhstan was under pressure to extradite Zhilin to Russia and described it as a “sad situation,” implying that Zhilin is being “handed over simply to die.”
It will hurt Kazakhstan’s image “very hard,” Zhovtis said, but Kazakh authorities apparently “believe that the conflict with Russia is much more serious.”
Zhilin was a shift supervisor in the special communications and information department of the FSB in the Siberian Federal District and was responsible for Putin’s communications with the regions.
After the mobilization was announced on September 21, Zhilin and his family decided to leave the country. He was detained on September 26 by border guards in the Abay region. Russia put Zhilin on the international wanted list under the articles “Desertion” and “Illegal crossing of the state border of the Russian Federation.”
Kazakh Interior Minister Marat Akhmetzhanov said in September that Astana would extradite Russians wanted for evading mobilization if they were put on the international wanted list at home.
Source : Radio Free Europe