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UPDATED: Detained in Poland, Ukrainian Activist Ihor Mazur Faces Extradition to Russia
10 November, 2019
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Ihor Mazur was arrested at a Polish border crossing on November 9 Facebook / Lyudmyla Denisova

UPDATE: At a press conference held in Lublin on November 10, Mazur lamented international institutions treating Ukrainians harshly recently citing the example of Vitaliy Markiv who was sentenced in Italy. He proceeded to play down the allegations that he fought in Chechnya:

"I did not participate in the fighting, [but] I was in Chechnya at the time. We came as journalists, I worked at the Free Caucasus Press Center,” the activist said.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Poland Andrii Deshchytsia also made a statement in the early hours of November 11:

“I am glad to personally shake Ihor Mazur's hand. Ihor is now safe in our Consulate General in Lublin. We continue to work on Ihor's speedy return to Ukraine,” Deschytsya wrote on Facebook and posted a photo with the detained Ukrainian.

Poland’s prosecutor's office has submitted a request for the extradition of Ukrainian activist and Donbas war veteran, Ihor Mazur.

This was reported by the Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, Lyudmyla Denisova.

Ihor Mazur, who is employed by the secretariat of the Parliamentary Ombudsperson for Human Rights, was detained at a Polish border crossing in Dorohusk on November 9 at the request of the Russian Federation. He was invited to Poland by the Deputy Speaker of the Polish Sejm (lower house of the Polish parliament), Beata Mazurek.

The detention was in response to a request by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation to Interpol.

Mazur is the deputy chairman of UNA-UNSO, a Ukrainian political party with nationalist views.

Russia was searching for Mazur, and other UNA-UNSO leaders, as well as members of other political parties accused of participating in the fighting at Minutka Square in Chechnya.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine consular official, Vasyl Kyrylych, told hromadske that they already have a  defense strategy for Mazur. He asserted that consuls have experience in protecting the rights of Ukrainians in cases like this, and that they have ended in the release of detainees.

On November 9, Polish Sejm Deputy Speaker Malgorzata Goszewska on her Facebook page stated that the detention of Mazur in Poland was a "purely technical" step and guaranteed no delays.

"A brave civic activist and veteran of the Donbas, Georgia and Chechnya wars, has fallen victim to the actions of his eastern neighbors. Russian government services added Mazur to the register of Interpol detentions. This is a clear example of the Kremlin's use of international law institutions for political revenge. We cannot succumb to provocation. We cannot be actors in the Russian script,” she wrote.

According to the vice-spokesperson, Polish law enforcement officers detained Mazur, identified as a "person on the register," to clarify the situation.

"I assure you that the road to Russia is not open. The Polish authorities and the courts will carefully investigate the case, and I, for my part, will assist and guarantee the innocence of Ihor Mazur in relation to the Russian charges,” Goszewska added.

A demonstration was held near the Polish Embassy in Kyiv on November 9 in support of Mazur. Protesters demanded that Polish law enforcement officers release Mazur as soon as possible. The protest was peaceful, and according to one of the demonstrators, they came “to inform the Poles that they detained an innocent man and thus played into Russia’s hands.”

“The incident is outrageous because Mazur is not a waste of space, he is a symbol of Ukraine. Such incidents repeat on a systematic basis. Russia exploits vulnerabilities in the Interpol system. It is strange that this happened in Poland,” said Mikhail Agafonov, a refugee from Russia who also attended the rally.

On November 10, a planned court hearing on Mazur's charges was cancelled, and Mazur has been released on bail. He will remain at the Ukrainian consulate in Lublin for the duration of the consideration of the extradition request.