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Kyiv Says Russian Anti-Putin Protester Seeks Political Asylum In Ukraine


Russian activist Roman Roslovtsev, wearing a rubber mask depicting President Vladimir Putin, poses for a picture in central Moscow on May 12.
Russian activist Roman Roslovtsev, wearing a rubber mask depicting President Vladimir Putin, poses for a picture in central Moscow on May 12.

KYIV -- Ukraine said on August 21 that a Russian opposition activist known for being repeatedly detained for protesting against Russian President Vladimir Putin's rule has asked Kyiv to grant him political asylum.

Oleh Slobodyan, a spokesman for Ukraine's State Border Guard Service, told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on August 21 that activist Roman Roslovtsev requested political asylum earlier in the day at passport control at the Novi Yarilovichi crossing on Ukraine's northern border with Belarus.

The border guard service had issued a statement earlier on August 21 that did not name the individual, describing him only as a "famous Russian writer and public figure who was involved in active protest activities against Putin's existing political regime in Russia."

Roman Roslovtsev
Roman Roslovtsev

Roslovtsev, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment via Facebook, is not known as a writer but rather for being detained on numerous occasions for staging one-man protests while wearing a Putin mask.

Slobodyan did not clarify why the border guard service's statement had described Roslovtsev as a "famous writer."

Roslovtsev has said his Putin-mask pickets are aimed at demonstrating the absurdity of Russia's protest laws, which Kremlin critics say are enforced arbitrarily in order to stamp out public criticism of the government. ​

WATCH: In this video from June 10, Roslovtsev is arrested once again for wearing a mask of the Russian president in Red Square. He was continuing a campaign against a law that bans mass protests in Russia. (RFE/RL's Russian Service)

Roslovtsev told Ukraine's independent channel on August 21 that he has asked Ukraine for political asylum because of persecution by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor agency to the Soviet KGB, and "the inability to continue protest activity in Russia."

He did not say in the published version of the interview that he was the individual cited in the State Border Guard Service statement.

The State Border Guard Service added that the man's case has been referred to migration authorities.

Oleksiy Makeiev, political director at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, did not provide details when reached by RFE/RL on August 21.

"I hope I will know more about it tomorrow," he said.

Numerous Russian opposition activists have sought and been granted political asylum in Ukraine over the past decade, claiming political repressions under Putin's government.

Moscow and Kyiv's pro-Western government have been locked in a 2-year-old standoff over Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea territory in 2014 and subsequent backing of armed separatists battling Ukrainian forces in the east of the country.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Christopher Miller in Kyiv
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