Meshkov Detained, Deported From Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine -- Yuriy Meshkov, a former Crimean president who recently made attempts to start a separatist movement in the autonomous republic, on Wednesday was detained by the SBU security service and deported from Ukraine.

Yuriy Meshkov

The move came immediately after a Crimean administrative court had approved his deportation for the calls of “changing constitutional state of Ukraine.” Meshkov, a Russian citizen, will be barred from entering Ukraine for five years.

This is the first case when a Russian citizen has been declared persona non-grata in Ukraine since Viktor Yanukovych, widely perceived as a pro-Russian leader, has been elected the president in February 2010.

Ukraine deported a number of Russian citizens during the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-Western leader, in 2005-2010, but those moved had eventually deteriorated relations with Moscow significantly.

“The district administrative court in Crimea has upheld an application from the security service to deport Meshkov from the territory of Ukraine, restricting his entry for five years,” according to SBU press service.

Anatoliy Los, Meshkov’s ally, told Segodnia daily later on Wednesday that the SBU had immediately taken Meshov to the city of Kerch, from where he had been deported to Russia by ferry.

Meshkov, who as the president of Crimea in 1994-1995 pushed for Crimea’s independence from Ukraine, lost political battles.

Ukraine’s parliament voted in March 1995 to cancel Crimea’s controversial separatist constitution, triggering Meshkov’s dismissal and his departure to Moscow, where he had spent quietly the past 16 years.

However, his sudden return to Crimea on July 2 coincided with a clash between Russian Cossacks with Ukrainian riot police forces, and with the rise of other pro-Russian groups across Ukraine over the past two months.

Meshkov’s deportation shows the level of concern in Ukraine over separatist calls in Crimea.

This may signal a possible shift in SBU’s operation towards increasing a number of agents assigned to work against potential Russian threats.

This department, which was strong during the presidency of Yushchneko in 2005-2010, had been seriously weakened immediately after election of Yanyukovych in February 2010.

The developments, coupled with the rise of small extremist pro-Russian groups in Ukraine over the past two months, suggest coordinated moves that appear to be provoking instability in Ukraine.

Source: Ukrainian Journal