Human Rights Defender Andrei Yurov denied entry to Ukraine

posted 14 Feb 2014, 01:50 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 14 Feb 2014, 02:40 ]
10 February 2014

Source: (info)
As Interfax reported, on Sunday 9 February Andrei Yurov, a member of the Presidential Human Rights Council and an expert with the Moscow Helsinki Group, was not allowed to enter Ukraine.

Yurov had flown to Kiev to take part in an international conference and had planned to meet with the local human rights ombudsman. He was sent back to Moscow on the same plane.

According to Andrei Yurov, he had not planned to meet representatives of the opposition. ‘I am not involved in politics,’ he said.

On 9 February it was reported that the Presidential Human Rights Council would officially ask the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning the refusal of Ukraine to permit Andrei Yurov to enter the country.

The head of the Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, said that he had already spoken with Russian diplomats after Andrei Yurov had phoned him and told him what had happened. "Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin has already taken action over this incident”, he said. “I think that the Ukrainian authorities should realize it is in their own interest that human rights defenders should provide the world with objective information about the events in Kiev and other regions of the country,” Fedotov said.

Officially the press centre of the Ukrainian Security Service is not commenting on the information that Andrei Yurov was not allowed to enter Ukraine but was sent back to Moscow..

At the same time, the Ukrainian State Border Service announced that they can neither deny nor confirm the information, citing the need to comply with the law on personal data.

Andrei Yurov heads the permanent commission on observance of human rights abroad of the Human Rights Council.

The international human rights organization Human Rights Watch issued a statement that the Ukrainian authorities should annul the ban on human rights defender Andrei Yurov entering the country.

“Yurov’s expulsion is an unprecedented and wholly regrettable step,” said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of driving out human rights defenders the Ukrainian government should be open to scrutiny of its human rights record during this crisis.”

Andrei Yurov told Human Rights Watch that he was stopped at the passport control and taken to a separate room where he was told that he was persona non grata, and was given a document with the decision not to allow him to cross the State border. He was told verbally that this was the decision of the Ukrainian Security Service. Human Rights Watch has seen a copy of this document, which merely says that Andrei Yurov is not allowed to enter the country. No time period over which this ban is effective was specified.

Staff of the border service put Andrei Yurov on a flight back to Moscow, giving his passport to the pilot of the plane. In Moscow, Yurov and his passport were handed over to the Russian border service. After his crossing of the border had been formalized, he was given back his passport and an official ‘Notice of Deportation of the Passenger’.

The incident with Andrei Yurov happened two weeks after he had been in Kiev, Kharkov and Donetsk to meet Ukrainian officials and victims of police violence and restrictions imposed by the Ukrainian authorities. He actively criticized the violations of human rights in Ukraine, and on 4 February held a press conference in Moscow on the situation there.

The International Group of Human Rights Defenders on the Situation in Ukraine calls for an international investigation of a series of episodes of police violence and the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators in Kiev.