Bulgaria has refused political asylum to Russian citizen Alexander Stotzky, who participated in many protests against President Vladimir Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On Monday, the Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court refused to grant the individual refugee status, citing the claim that “there are no mass repressions” in Russia.
“There is no reason to assume that the official authorities in the Russian Federation are undertaking massive repression against citizens who express dissatisfaction with the president’s (Putin) policy,” the court said.
The Bulgarian court is unconvinced that the young Russian is threatened with mobilisation or arrest in his homeland.
In December 2022, the Russian citizen reported receiving a notice of mobilisation at his home address, which the Bulgarian authorities ignored.
“His fears that upon returning to the country he will be persecuted for his different political views or be mobilised. These are only assumptions that are not supported by evidence,” the court decision said.
He arrived in Bulgaria legally with a one-year visa but submitted documents for refugee status. Since he has been in Bulgaria, he has participated in protests against Russian aggression and made media appearances in which he declares himself against Putin’s actions.
The Bulgarian supreme judges ignored the fact that Putin is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, whose jurisdiction is recognised by Bulgaria. The Court’s decision also does not consider the fact that Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe was terminated in April 2022, two months after the start of the invasion of Ukraine.
This means that the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights no longer applies to Russia, creating additional risks for the protection of human and political rights in the country.
Last year, when considering other cases, the Bulgarian courts paid attention to the resolutions of the European Parliament regarding the intensifying repressions against civil society and human rights defenders in Russia. With the latest decision of the Supreme Administrative Court, the positions of the EU institutions are completely ignored.
“There is no persecution in Russia because of a different race, religion, nationality, belonging to a certain social group or because of political opinions or convictions,” the Bulgarian court said.
Stotzky says that the Bulgarian court and the State Refugee Agency have ignored the fact that he received a call-up letter for the army.
“I’m sorry, Alex Stotzky! Bulgaria is a disgusting Russian swamp,” his lawyer Kamen Dobrev wrote on his Facebook profile.
(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)
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