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08KYIV401, UKRAINE: UNHCR APPEALS FOR RELEASE OF CHECHEN

February 21, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KYIV401 2008-02-21 12:16 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXYZ0003
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKV #0401/01 0521216
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211216Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5013
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 000401 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/15/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREF UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: UNHCR APPEALS FOR RELEASE OF CHECHEN 
 
REFUGEE 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Jim Pettit for reasons 1.4 (b) a 
nd (d). 
 
1.  (U)  This is an action request - See paragraph 3. 
 
2.  (C) Summary.  The UNHCR informed the Embassy about its 
appeal to President Yushchenko to prevent the extradition of 
Chechen Refugee Lema Susarov to Russia and to release him 
from detention so that he can be resettled to Finland. 
Susarov, who was detained by Ukrainian authorities in July 
2007, remains in detention despite having refugee status from 
the UNHCR and Finland.  Human rights groups have expressed 
concern that he would be secretly deported to Russia where 
they allege he could be tortured.  UNHCR Kyiv, which told us 
it has found no reason to believe he is connected with 
terrorism, told us that it would welcome Embassy support in 
getting him released and resettled.  End Summary 
 
3.  (C) Comment and Request for Guidance.  UNHCR has kept us 
up to date on developments since Susarov was detained last 
year, but this is the first time it expressed interest in our 
involvement.  The fact that Susarov remains in detention 
despite having refugee status and a third resettlement 
country indicates to us that there is a real possibility of 
refoulement.  He has been in detention for seven months and, 
according to the UNHCR, no time limits have been set and his 
health is a serious concern.  His open-ended detention, 
reported health problems, and possible forced deportation to 
Russia are all significant human rights concerns.  Embassy 
requests Department concurrence for us to demarche the 
Ukrainian Government in order to support his release and 
resettlement.  Such an action would allow us to formally 
register our concern about the case now and also put us in a 
position to take a more forceful stand if Susarov is 
refouled.  Suggested demarche points follow in paragraph 
seven.  End Comment and Request for Guidance. 
UNHCR Appeals to Yushchenko 
--------------------------- 
 
4.  (C) The UNHCR representative office in Kyiv sent a letter 
to President Yushchenko January 29 requesting that Chechen 
refugee Lema Susarov not be extradited to Russia, that he be 
released from detention where he has been held for over seven 
months, and that he be allowed to resettle in Finland where 
he has been recognized as a refugee.  UNHCR Kyiv informed us 
of its letter on February 6 and said it would welcome the 
Embassy's support in engaging the GoU to encourage his 
release and resettlement to Finland. 
 
Detained in July 2007, Has UNHCR Refugee Status 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
5.  (C) Susarov, who is an ethnic Chechen refugee from 
Russia, was detained by Ukrainian authorities on July 20, 
2007, and the Prosecutor General's Office (PGO) approved his 
extradition on July 27 at the request of the Russian 
Federation on charges of robbery.  His lawyer claimed he was 
subjected to violent abuse while detained.  On July 28, 
Ukraine's Human Rights Ombudsman Nina Karpachova requested 
that the PGO stop Susarov's extradition and hold a hearing. 
Susarov, who had been recognized as a refugee by the UNHCR in 
Azerbaijan in 2006, registered as an asylum seeker with the 
Kyiv City Migration Service on August 6.  The court issued a 
ruling on September 28 that stayed Susarov's extradition and 
he remains in detention to this date.  UNHCR Kyiv determined 
Susarov's refugee status on August 22 and Finland recognized 
him as a refugee and offered resettlement to him in October 
2007.  On January 15, 2008 the State Committee on 
Nationalities and Religion rejected his asylum application. 
He is currently appealing this decision and remains in 
detention. 
 
6.  (C) According to internet media sources, Susarov is 
accused of an armed robbery involving international phone 
cards.  NGO European Wave alleged on its website that Susarov 
is related to a member of the Chechen resistance and that 
Russian authorities want to detain Susarov in order to 
pressure his relatives.  UNHCR said it could not confirm 
either story since it was not authorized by Susarov's lawyers 
to discuss details of the case except with the State 
Committee on Nationalities and Religion.  However, UNHCR 
Kyiv's deputy confirmed in a meeting with Emboff in October 
2007 that UNHCR did not believe that Susarov was involved in 
terrorist activities.  In a follow-up discussion, a visiting 
UNHCR protection officer on February 11 explained that UNHCR 
normally conducts an "exclusion analysis" and determined he 
should not be excluded from refugee status.   Additionally, 
she pointed out that both UNHCR Kyiv and Finland granted him 
refugee status, which indicated that they were confident that 
he was not a terrorist.  As for the criminal charges, UNHCR 
Kyiv noted that he had been accused, not convicted, of the 
 
armed robbery charges and even if found guilty, UNHCR would 
object to deportation to a country where he could be 
subjected to human rights abuses.  The RSO at Post conducted 
an independent background check, with input from Embassy 
Moscow, and found no derogato
ry information. 
 
HR Groups Fear Secret Deportation and Torture in Russia 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
7.  (C) Human rights groups have protested the planned 
forcible return of Susarov.  UNHCR Kyiv urged in its letter 
to President Yushchenko that Ukraine respect its 
international obligation to the principle of non-refoulement 
and expressed concern that the government had disregarded his 
status as a refugee by Finland and under the UNHCR mandate. 
It noted that the time in detention has been lengthy and 
Susarov's health and lack of access to medical treatment is a 
source of concern.  Human rights groups including the Amnesty 
International in Ukraine, the Helsinki Human Rights Group, 
and the No Border Initiative expressed concern in October 
2007 about a planned secret deportation to Russia where they 
feared he would be in danger of torture. 
 
Proposed Demarche 
----------------- 
 
8.  (C)  We suggest the followign text for a demarche to be 
delivered to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Begin points: 
 
      -  We would like to bring the case of a Chechen 
refugee, Mr. Lema Lichaevych Susarov, to your attention.  He 
is currently seeking asylum in Ukraine and is the subject of 
extradition proceedings between Ukraine and the Russian 
Federation. 
 
      -  According to the UNHCR representation in Kyiv, Mr. 
Susarov applied for asylum on August 6, 2007, and on January 
15, 2008 the State Committee for Nationalities and Religion 
rejected his application.   Mr. Susarov is a refugee under 
the UNHCR mandate and was recognized as a refugee by Finland 
in 2007, where he was offered resettlement. 
 
      -  We urge the Government of Ukraine to take into 
account the fact that the UNHCR has determined that Mr. 
Susarov is a refugee and that he has been offered 
resettlement in Finland 
 
      -  We would like to point out that extraditing Mr. 
Susarov to the Russian Federation would amount to a breach by 
Ukraine of the principle of non-refoulement. 
 
      -  We ask that your government not extradite Mr. 
Susarov to the Russian Federation, in line with Ukraine's 
obligations under international law, and release him from 
detention so that he may resettle to Finland where he has 
been recognized as a refugee. 
 
End Demarche Points 
 
9. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

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