Sunday, August 03, 2014

EU member state Bulgaria arrests opponent of Putin, may hand him to Russia

Let me first copy a report from the site of Standart daily paper:

"Nikolai Koblyakov, a political opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin was arrested at Sofia airport. This was announced by Nova TV which stated that the arrest took place on Tuesday evening.

Nikolai Koblyakov is wanted by Moscow and has dual Russian-French citizenship. He has a Paris-based organization called "Free Russia".

The man arrived in the Bulgarian  capital on a flight from Paris and was arrested at the border entry.

"The Russian side has requested custody for a criminal offense committed in 2004-2005. What it is exactly about is unclear as the order is very general, "said the lawyer of the detainee.

It turns out that a Moscow court has issued an arrest warrant on Koblyakov last year, but he has not been detained in France.

On the website of Interpol Koblyakov is not in the red bulletin, the lawyer of the political opponent of the Russian president emphasized.

Koblyakov remains in custody."

Meanwhile, Koblyakov was released and is now awaiting the decision of the court about whether he will be extradited to Russia, as Russian authorities demand. He talked to media, and what he says is worth hearing. Below I am translating from the site:

"The City Court of Sofia declared "groundless" the demand of prosecution to keep the Kremlin opponent Nikolay Koblyakov in custody.

He is a physics and law graduate of Moscow University and has lived and worked in France for years.

While he has different business activities, Nikolay Koblyakov is known mainly as founder of the Free Russia organization which has for years protested against President Vladimir Putin and in support of Russion opposition activists and political prisoners.

He wonders why, after Interpol has issued a warrant for him, he has been arrested not in Paris but in Sofia.

"...I can much easier be found in Paris where I live and work... But I think that the Russians still feel that in Sofia it is much easier for them to do what they want," Koblyakov said.

According to the Russian federal investigation, in 2004 Koblyakov allegedly conspired with the former CEO of Russian Stankoimport foreign trade company to snatch some trans-border assets of the company.

"Before I was arrested here, I did not know I was charged! Russians say they have sought me since 2012, and I have even renewed my Russian passport in this period... Everybody knew where I was. Apparently, Russian security services just waited for me to leave France and to visit a country in which they could bypass the law," says the opposition activist.

"...What I liked especially was - if I were in Russia, I would have been severely beaten or even killed. (Here), despite my views, Bulgarian police officers behaved in a quite professional way."

...Nikolay Koblyakov will remain in Bulgaria for at least 40 days more, until the process about his extradition is over

I think the praise Mr. Koblyakov gives to Bulgarian police for not beating him is telltale for the reputation of EU member state Bulgaria, a.k.a. the "Trojan horse" of Russia in EU. I strongly hope that France and the international human rights watchdogs will press in favor of Koblyakov to eliminate all risk of extraditing him to Russia. There is now much talk on all levels about tougher sanctions against Russia. I think that there must also be a mechanism for sanctions against European countries if their eagerness to act as Russian puppets brings them to violations of common EU policy, human rights and international law.

Update: There is an online petition against the extradition of Mr. Koblyakov.

1 comment:

Laura Snyder said...

Hello! Thank you for writing about Nikolay! I'd like to let you know that we've created a storify file that tells him story, and I've just included a link to this blog entry in the file:

To all of your readers: please sign the petition to oppose Nikolay's extradition to Russia - you can find it here:

Thank you!