Rigths Activists Point to Situation of Chechen Refugees
The website Prague Monitor has reported that on Monday 23, former Czech Human Rights Minister Michael Kocáb and several foreign human rights advocates organized a press conference and pointed to the unfortunate situation of Chechen refugees in Europe, including the Czech Republic.
One of these human rights activists was Russian Viktor Fainberg. Fainberg was one of the “magnificent seven” who demonstrated on Red Square in Moscow in 1968 against the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia that crushed the Prague Spring communist-led reform movement. He was arrested and imprisoned by the Soviet regime. The Kramar medal was awarded to Viktor Fainberg by then prime minister Mirek Topolánek in 2008. Frainberg even threatens with returning the Karel Kramář medal to the Czech government since Czech authorities want to meet the Russian request for the extradition of Ali Atsayev. Ali Atsayev was arrested in Prague in 2008 while he was seeking asylum in the Czech Republic and now is in custody. Fainberg plans to meet Czech Interior Minister Jan Kubice over his case. Fainberg told CTK that Atsayev’s extradition to Russia would be unacceptable and it would “personally offend” him. The Interior Ministry told CTK (Czech News Agency) it will not comment on the case for the time being.
According to information from the organisers of Monday’s conference, Atsayev was accused of a murder in Russia. He sought asylum in the Czech Republic but failed. The Supreme Administrative Court allegedly decided to return his case for reappraisal since unlawful steps were taken in it, it said. In the meantime, Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil has allegedly signed consent with Atsayev’s extradition to Russia.
Justice Ministry spokesman Jiří Hovorka dismissed any possible wrong having been done by the ministry. He said the Atsayev case has been taken to the Czech Constitutional Court and the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. “The man cannot be extradited until these courts make a decision,” Hovorka said.
Russian human rights advocate Svetlana Gannushkina said European governments should not return Chechen refugees to Russia since regime opponents and their families face persecution, torture and death there.
Gannushkina referred to a report by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) that highlighted different treatment of Chechen refugees in various parts of Europe and expressed fear for their safety and protection in some European countries.
The problem of Chechen refugees is often neglected in the Czech Republic, Kocáb pointed out. Kocáb recalled that the Czech Government Human Rights Council proposed last year that applicants for international protection from Chechnya or of Chechen origin, whose asylum applications were rejected, be returned to the country of origin only on the voluntary basis.
From 1990 to December 2009, a total of 9545 people from Russia, including Chechens, applied for asylum in the Czech Republic and 384 were granted it, according to the Interior Ministry’s statistics.