Kazakhstan has deported Mikhail Zhilin, an officer with Russia’s Federal Guard Service (FGS) who escaped to Kazakhstan to avoid mobilisation, to Russia, his wife Yekaterina tells Novaya Gazeta Europe.
Mikhail and Yekaterina. Photo: personal archive
“I’m trying to find [him] with the help of human rights defenders and lawyers, I was told that they’re looking for him. [The Kazakhstan International] Bureau for Human Rights confirmed that they had sent inquiries to the migration police, [the police] handed [Mikhail] over to border guards; the border guards said that they had handed him over to Russia,” Yekaterina Zhilina says.
Talking to media outlet ASTRA, Yekaterina noted that her husband had not been extradited on Russia’s request but deported for violating border crossing rules. According to her, he could have been deported anywhere but he was taken to Russia.
As of now, it is unknown where in Russia Mikhail is being taken. Journalist Yevgeniya Baltatarova says that [his loved ones] are trying to find lawyers for the man in the city of Novosibirsk.
Mikhail Zhilin has been serving at the FGS for 18 years. Five days after mobilisation was declared, he decided to leave the country with his family. His wife and children crossed the border via the Koyanbay checkpoint, while Mikhail decided to cross the border illegally as the Zhilins believed he would not be allowed out of Russia as he was an active officer.
The Zhilins were planning on reaching Astana or Almaty and applying for refugee status, however, Kazakhstan’s border guards managed to catch and detain Mikhail. Both Russia and Kazakhstan accused him of illegal crossing of the border, while Russia also accused the man of desertion.
The Zhilins were denied refugee status on 30 November. The man was ordered to be deported out of the country by a court decision. Still, he was allowed to leave the country on his own, but when Zhilin attempted to get a flight to Armenia, it was revealed that Russia had put him on the international wanted list.
Yesterday, 29 December, the deportation process of Zhilin began.
“He called me from his cellphone, said he was in Semey [a city in north Kazakhstan close to the Russian border — Novaya-Europe]. Said he will now be taken to the Russian border,” Yekaterina told Novaya-Europe yesterday.