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Russian ex-police officer who fled to Latvia after start of war in Ukraine granted asylum

Riga’s Administrative District Court has ruled to grant asylum to 27-year-old ex-police officer from the Russian city of Pskov, Stanislav Bashilov, the man himself tells Russian media outlet Sever.Real.

The ruling was made in the middle of December, Delfi previously reported. The man asked the Latvian border service to grant him refugee status or an alternative status in Latvia due to his fears of being sent to fight in the Ukraine War or sentenced to prison because of his being against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Photo: social media

Photo: social media

Bashilov served in the Russian army. Later on, he worked in the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ convoy. After being disappointed in the law enforcement system of Russia, he quit his job and started working at a fertiliser plant. According to the man, he went to rallies in support of opposition politician Alexey Navalny. After the start of the war in Ukraine, he attended an anti-war rally in St. Petersburg.

At the beginning of March, Bashilov received a notice to attend military drills, so he decided to flee Russia. He did not have a Schengen visa; he crossed the Latvian border illegally. He reached the border by car, later abandoning it.

“I took everything I could carry by myself. Walking along the border, I found a spot where I could cross it unnoticed. <…> I just climbed over the fence, then walked through a forest, found a road, and walked alongside it for a long time,” Bashilov recalls.

Afterwards, he reached the Latvian town Viļaka on foot. From there, he took a bus to Riga. In the Latvian capital, he surrendered to the police; he was later sent to a camp for asylum seekers near Riga.

“I took an integration course, started learning Latvian; I received an A1 certificate [of language proficiency]. Three months later, I got a work permit, got hired at an online casino. <…> I worked there for one and a half months, saving up some money. In August, I was refused asylum,” he says.

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Latvia’s Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs denied to grant Bashilov asylum, citing the fact that he was not a notorious political activist or human rights defender in Russia nor did he support a specific political force. According to the agency, he also did not provide any information about him or his family receiving threats after his departure from Russia due to his participation in rallies or failing to show up in a draft office.

According to Bashilov, the grounds for refusal stated that the decision whether to fight in a war or not is “strictly voluntary”. “And seeing as I’m against the war, I’m free to say no [to going to war],” Bashilov explains.

Disagreeing with the decision made by the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, Bashilov went to court. During the hearings, Latvia’s State Security Service stated that it does not support letting Russian citizens with military experience enter the country.

“The possibility that Russian secret services purposefully send spies and saboteurs under the guise of mobilised refugees to Latvia should not be ruled out,” the service said.

The court ruled that the State Security Service’s stance is of a general nature and proposed the agency indicate [in the future] whether a specific individual poses a threat to national security or not.

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