Free Russia Report: Russia’s Abuse of International Law Enforcement Agencies
The International Non-Governmental Organization Free Russia Foundation published a report on the violation of law by the Kremlin and its use of Western institutions to destabilize the West. We present to your attention an article from this report. You can read the full report on the website of the organization.
Russia’s Abuse of International Law Enforcement AgenciesABSTRACT
Interpol’s internal charter forbids their 194 member nations to use the international law enforcement organization in any actions that are of a “political, military, religious or racial character.” Russia undoubtedly violates all four of these restrictions. By using the system to mete out punishment against its opponents, Russia’s general prosecutor’s office has served Red Notices and diffusions on countless individuals, causing them legal, travel, and immigration headaches. In some cases, this works as a substitute for extradition treaties where none existed. Russia also uses Interpol’s system to deport mostly Muslim antagonists by declaring them terrorists. Finally, evidence is now emerging that Russian officials may have hacked their way inside international financial institutions and gained access to private financial information of Russia’s opponents. > constitution that forbids member countries from using the system for “any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character,” Russia has become one of the top abusers of Interpol “Red Notices,” which are (incorrectly) viewed in some countries as an international arrest warrant or a reason to deport. Numerous Red Notices filed by Russia have been aimed at political opponents such as Vladimir Gusinsky, the former owner of Russia’s leading independent media group; Ilya Ponomarev, a former Duma member who cast the lone vote in opposition to the annexation of Crimea; Russian environmental activist Petr Silaev; Leonid Nevzlin, vice president of Yukos Oil, who was indicted as part of the Kremlin’s campaign against the company; Eerik-Niiles Kross, an Estonian politician who has long been a thorn in the Kremlin’s side; Boris Berezovsky, once Russia’s most influential “oligarch,” who helped bring Vladimir Putin to power and later became his sworn opponent; Akhmed Zakayev, a Chechen prime minister in exile; and Nikita Kulachenkov, an activist at Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. Russia has also hounded businessman and Kremlin critic Bill Browder by requesting at least five Red Notices, but none of them, thanks to legal and international pressure, have been published. The Russians did transmit a diffusion on Mr. Browder through Interpol. (A diffusion is similar to a Red Notice but sent directly by a member country of Interpol to a country of their choice.) e put into Interpol’s data base have been able to hire attorneys and have their names removed, at a cost and sometimes after being detained or having travel restricted. The impact of Russia’s use of Red Notices is being felt the hardest on those seeking asylum from Russia around the world. In Europe, Russia has placed many Russian-born Muslim dissidents on terror watch lists, creating dozens of deportations back to Russia and Chechnya (see case studies below). In the U.S., recent changes in Department of Homeland Security policy have meant hundreds of detentions and deportations for Russians seeking refugee status in the U.S. The new policy, adopted in 2015, limits asylum requests from anyone with an allegation of a criminal background, which is assumed by immigration judges to be the case if a name appears in Interpol’s database.
Pavyeled Russia for the U.S. and has himself had to deal with Red Notices for the past nine years, now assists Russians facing deportation or arrest for being on Interpol’s Red Notice list. Ivlev explains that many of his clients have been arrested in their homes or detained when going to an immigration status hearing. Many of his clients were unaware they were on Interpol’s list at the time of their detention. He says that Russia is completely aware of how to game the system and have those it treats as criminals sent back to Russia. “Russia completely understands how it works in the U.S. and abuses Red Notices and diffusions to return many people back to Russia who left because of criminal persecution for political or business-related reasons,” Ivlev said. “The U.S. and Russia do not have an extradition treaty, and this is, essentially, a way to get around that and have people it believes are criminals returned back to Russia.”
Ivlev said thatden placed in local jails, often without bail, while they wait for up to 90 days to see an immigration judge. Even with the best lawyers, Ivlev said the end result is often deportation back to Russia. “They don’t get due process. Everything is wrong with this system now,” Ivlev says of internal changes in DHS policy. “Russia knows ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is traditionally very cooperative of Red Notice requests. They know how it works. They know ICE is supposed to inform the requesting country, Russia, and notify them when someone has been detained. There are criminal charges pending by a Russian court and they’re saying, ‘we want that person to be delivered to us.’”
Dr. Ted Bromund, a Senior Resea-bion, has written extensively on Interpol abuses and reform. He agrees that immigration policy in the U.S. can be abused by autocratic regimes: “ICE … cannot arrest on the basis of the Red Notice, but it can and does arrest for the immigration violation that the Red Notice creates, which comes very close to allowing Vladimir Putin to pick his targets on ICE’s behalf.”.
Not all who have Red Notices ﬁled againepesn’t mean life for them is any easier. Bromund agreed with the U.S. Helsinki Committee’s Kyle Parker that “a Red Notice can be even more effective than the judicial system — with none of the safeguards … It doesn’t prosecute you; it persecutes you.” In an email exchange for this report, Dr. Bromund explained that “a Russian Red Notice may get you arrest-ed and has a chance of getting you extradited — but the real punishment is the number of ways it complicates your life, and the difficulties you will face in getting things back to normal.”
“Basically, presuming you are not arrested and/or extradited otcts,” Dr. Bromund explained. “1. A Red Notice makes it much, much harder to travel; 2. If you are not a citizen, and if you have any valid travel documents (a visa, for example), it is likely to lead to the cancellation of those documents, which can in turn land you in jail on an immigration violation charge; 3. If the abusive Red Notice is public, it can and often does lead to the closure of your bank accounts, which makes fighting back even harder, because you no longer have a credit card or a check to pay your lawyers; 4. It brands you as a criminal (particularly because most people incorrectly believe that a Red Notice is an ‘international arrest warrant’ or that it is based on evidence or some Interpol investigative process, none of which is true), and this can make it hard to get or keep a job or to do anything where having a ‘criminal back-ground’ creates problems. Generally speaking, of course, the more famous and the richer you are, the less these effects are likely to bother you and the more able you are to hire good lawyers to fight back — but even for the very rich and famous, the effects can be serious.”.
In Europe, the effect of being subjected to a Red Notice depends on the countryw tions as a member of Interpol, according to Dr. Bromund. “Broadly speaking, the best rule of thumb is that common law nations (e.g. the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) do not treat a Red Notice as an actionable basis for making an arrest, whereas in many civil law nations (France and most of the rest of Europe) a Red Notice can serve as a sufficient basis for making an arrest,” Dr. Bromund said.
According to Dr. Bromund, Russia’s relationship with some countries can mean a more p t “If I was named in a Russia Red Notice, for example, I would not be too worried about visiting Norway — but I would be very worried about visiting Bulgaria or Serbia.”.
In recent years, Russia has been using European law enforcement agencies and public sentimentra may include creating difficulties with obtaining documents in the EU, Turkey, and Ukraine, and, in some cases, initiation of deportation or extradition of their opponents. This has impacted two migrant groups disproportionally: (1) Muslims who have ﬂed religious persecution and who continue to remain in the public spotlight and (2) Chechens who openly criticize the Kremlin-picked head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, or whom the Chechen leader believes present a danger to him. Chechens are frequently accused of religious extremism, having connections with terrorist organizations, or participating in the armed conflict in Syria on the side of ISIS, and placed on international terror lists managed by Interpol.
Those accusations place European migration services, law enforcement agencies, and even human r aOn the one hand, verifying the accuracy of those accusations sometimes proves impossible, but on the other, ignoring the information received from Russian intelligence or police agencies means potentially dropping the ball on threats of terrorism.
The practices of Turkish, Ukrainian, Egyptian, and other North African and Middle Eastern securicd as unpredictable or corrupt, presenting risks to immigrants. The recent mass detentions and deportations of Russian Muslims from Egypt are a vivid example.
With European law enforcement agencies, Russia has been using both official and unofficial meanit/wp:paragraph –>
Tumso Abdurakhmanov was forced to leave the Chechen capital city of Grozny, having previously sent abroad his family members (mother, brother, wife, and children), after a conflict with Islam Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Presidential Administration, and Ramzan Kadyrov’s relative and appointee. In the fall of 2015, Abdurakhmanov entered Georgia, but the Georgian authorities refused to grant him asylum on the basis of information received from Russian law enforcement agencies – in November 2015 a Chechen investigator ﬁled a criminal case naming Tumso Abdurakhmanov and alleging violations of Russian Criminal Code Art. 208, Part 2 [“Involvement in an armed group not provided for by federal law, as well as involvement on the territory of a foreign state in an armed group not provided for by the law of that state, bearing objectives contrary to the interests of the Russian Federation”]. On top of that, in 2016-2017 Tumso Abdurakhmanov was added to Interpol’s international wanted list. However, on August 17, 2017, in response to a request, the Interpol Commission for the Control of Files replied that Tumso Abdurakhmanov’s information was removed from the system on May 3, 2017, since an investigation had shown that there were insufficient grounds for conducting a manhunt using the Interpol system.
Abdurakhmanov booked a ticket to Russia via Warsaw and, once in Warsaw, he requested political asylum. His Russian passport has expired and, on the basis of information received from Russian and Georgian law enforcement agencies, some of which is classified, the Polish authorities have denied Abdurakhmanov’s asylum application and are going to extradite him to Russia. From the experience of Muslims already extradited from the EU, Ukraine, and Turkey, Abdurakhmanov can face torture and a lengthy prison sentence in his homeland.
The first method is to place the targeted persons on Interpol’s Red Notice list or to name them in diffusions. To dchcording to information provided by Vayfond lawyers, an independent human rights organization that represents Chechens in cases such as Interpol abuse. They are