Monday, March 24, 2008

National Bolshevik Bolts For Ukraine

MOSCOW, Russia -- The fiancee of opposition activist Yury Chervochkin, who died last year of injuries suffered in a murky beating, has fled Russia and requested political asylum in Ukraine.

Murdered Russian opposition activist Yury Chervochkin.

Anna Ploskonosova, a 20-year-old activist with the banned National Bolshevik Party from Tula, submitted her asylum application to immigration officials in the central Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa on March 9, she said from the city by telephone Friday.

Yelena Mamentova, a spokeswoman for Ukraine's State Committee for Nationalities and Religion, which deals with asylum requests, confirmed that Ploskonosova's application had been received.

Ploskonosova is the latest of the organization's activists to flee to Ukraine to escape what they call fabricated criminal cases against them.

Her fiance, Chervochkin, was an National Bolshevik activist in the Moscow region city of Serpukhov. On Nov. 22, he called a reporter from opposition leader Garry Kasparov's web site, Kasparov.ru, to say he was being followed by local police officers.

Hours later Chervochkin, 22, was discovered unconscious outside his apartment building after apparently having been savagely beaten. He died on Dec. 10 after spending three weeks in a coma.

His fellow activists say he had been promoting an opposition rally to be held on Nov. 24. The opposition coalition The Other Russia has accused officers from the anti-organized crime department of the Serpukhov police of assaulting Chervochkin.

No suspects have been identified or detained in connection with the attack on Chervochkin, "despite very intensive efforts" by investigators, Yelena Zhukova, a spokeswoman for the Moscow region branch of the Investigative Committee, said Friday.

The opposition coalition The Other Russia has accused investigators of dragging their feet in the case.

Ploskonosova, meanwhile, had been facing charges of assaulting a police officer in Tula before she fled the country -- allegations she said were trumped up.

"They are saying that I punched a policeman in the eye," Ploskonosova said. "It was made clear that if I deny it in court, the punishment would be a long prison sentence."

Tula prosecutors say Ploskonosova attacked the officer during a Nov. 7 opposition rally in Tula. The crime she is charged with is punishable by up to five years in prison.

"It later became clear to me that authorities are trying by any means possible to put me in prison, so I decided to leave," she said.

Calls to the prosecutor's office in Tula's central district, which is handling Ploskonosova's case, went unanswered Friday. Calls to Tula's Central District Court, which is hearing the ongoing case, went unanswered as well.

National Bolshevik Party leader Eduard Limonov said Ploskonosova's case was "just one example of the mass repressions that are continuing in our country."

"What choice do these people have?" Limonov said. "It's either leave the country or go to jail."

Ploskonosova said she traveled by train to Ukraine on March 9 and had no problems crossing the border, as Russians do not require visas to enter the country. She then traveled to Vinnitsa, where she met with Dmitry Groisman, a local rights activist who has helped numerous Russian citizens -- including National Bolshevik activists -- seeking asylum.

Last month, Ukraine granted asylum to organization member Olga Kudrina, who was facing prison time for a 2005 political stunt in which she hung an anti-Putin banner from the since demolished Rossiya Hotel, near the Kremlin.

Another National Bolshevik activist, Mikhail Gangan, is currently awaiting a decision on his asylum petition to Ukrainian authorities.

Source: The Moscow Times

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