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Turkmen Wanted In Ashgabat On 'Extremism' Charges Detained In Russia

Ahmet Jumadurdyev
Ahmet Jumadurdyev

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Russian authorities have detained a Turkmen citizen who is wanted in Ashgabat on a controversial "extremism" charge.

Lawyer Olga Tseitlina told RFE/RL on January 25 that Ahmet Jumadurdyev was detained by police in the city of St. Petersburg "to check his documents."

Jumadurdyev studied at a university in the town of Ivangorod near St. Petersburg from 2013 to 2017.

In 2017, authorities in Turkmenistan added him to a wanted list, accusing him of "religious extremism" after Jumadurdyev started writing in social networks about Turkmen citizens who had received lengthy prison terms after returning to Turkmenistan from Russia.

Jumadurdyev, who rejects the accusations by the Turkmen authorities, was arrested in St. Petersburg at Ashgabat's request and spent one year in a detention center. His brother was sentenced to 25 years in prison in Turkmenistan in an "extremism case."

Eleven Turkmen who studied in Russian universities were added to the wanted list at the time. Two of them were sentenced to 15 years in prison after they came back home from Russia.

In 2019, Russian officials rejected Jumadurdyev's claim for refugee status. His request for asylum in Estonia was also rejected.

Last summer, Jumadurdyev tried to illegally cross the Russian-Estonian border but was stopped by Estonian border guards and sent back to Russia.

Russian authorities then banned his presence in the country until July 1, 2055.

However, in October 2020, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Jumadurdyev cannot be deported to Turkmenistan until it makes a final ruling on his case.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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