A Russian citizen was arrested at Prague airport on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by Ukraine. This was confirmed by Ondřej Moravčík, spokesman for the Police Headquarters of the Czech Republic, to the Russian news agency RIA Nowosti.
“I can confirm that a Russian citizen was arrested at Prague Airport on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by Ukraine.”
Earlier, Alexander Molokhov, head of the working group on international legal issues at the Permanent Mission of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to the President of the Russian Federation, also announced on Sunday that an important participant in the events of the Crimean Spring, which ushered in the reunification of the peninsula with Russia , was arrested at Prague Airport. It is about the Russian citizen Alexander Francetti: He is known for his role in securing the referendum for the exit of Crimea from Ukraine and their return to the Russian Federation and has been awarded the “For the Return of Crimea” medal. Molokhov criticized journalists from RIA Nowosti the decision of the Czech authorities:
“The Czech Republic has apparently decided to justify its inclusion in the list of countries hostile to Russia with deeds – and to serve the Ukrainian neo-Nazis: Today the famous hero of the Crimean Spring, Alexander Francetti, was illegally arrested at the Prague airport.”
Ukraine’s allegation against Francetti, on which it justified its request for an international arrest warrant in 2019, is described in the second part of section 260 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code and reads “creating illegal armed formations or participating in their activities”. Molokhov summarized this in a statement to the Russian military news channel Swesda somewhat simplistic as “terrorism” together. That is why the activist of the Crimean Spring is now in mortal danger after his arrest, fears the expert on international legal issues:
“I very much hope that our Foreign Ministry and Russia’s embassy in the Czech Republic as well as the human rights commissioner of the Russian Federation, Tatyana Moskalkova, will actively intervene in this situation – because the situation is very tense. According to my information, his extradition was planned in an urgent manner – that is to deport a Russian citizen to Ukraine in just a few days, where he will face certain death on such a charge. “
This assessment is by no means out of thin air: Alexander Francetti is already in the Ukrainian online pillory of Mirotvorets – with its proven connections to the Ukrainian secret service SBU. This pillory is also notorious as an online hit list: several political activists were recently murdered after their entry on Mirotvorets, the most famous of which are the publicist Oles Busina and the Rada MP Oleg Kalashnikov. (Incidentally, various well-known leftists in Germany can also be found in this public web card.)
Training contract not fulfilled – fact “terrorism“ neither
According to the Czech online radio station iRozhlas Francetti had a settlement permit in the Czech Republic and worked there as a fitness trainer. Immediately before the events in Crimea in 2014, however, he says he ended up back in Russia with a training contract – but he was unable to fulfill it:
The Russian citizen rushed to Crimea in February 2014, where he recruited the “Severny Veter” (German: “North Wind”) intelligence group for the “Oborona Sevastopolja” (“Defense of Sevastopol”) militia, of which he was one of the founding members. This group consisted of 12 members with skills in the area of tracing in wooded mountainous terrain and was also led by Francetti. The group had the task of ensuring the operation of infrastructure objects, especially high-voltage lines that run through sparsely populated areas and forest areas in the vicinity of the city of Sevastopol, as well as high-voltage lines and the parallel natural gas lines in the MacKenzie Mountains, a (also wooded) hilly landscape near Sevastopol. Both the objects themselves (such as the masts of the high-voltage lines or the entire length of the gas lines) were to be searched for explosive charges and the entire area for explosives and weapons hiding places: there was suspicion that terrorist gangs or groups of saboteurs would want to damage them in order to torpedo the referendum in Crimea. Accordingly, the second focus was on the monitoring of pedestrian and car traffic through the said areas – both mobile on foot patrol and stationary from camouflaged guards. The reconnaissance data obtained in this way were forwarded to the staff of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol and to the command of the Russian marine infantry stationed there, Francetti said in an interview. In this and in another interview, Francetti also mentioned the arrest of such a terrorist gang:
Dejan “Deki” Beric, who joined the “Nordwind” as a volunteer in the spring of 2014 (and later joined the People’s Militia as a volunteer in the unrecognized Donetsk People’s Republic and achieved quite a reputation for his work as a sniper), took care of the Crimea over the course of several days single-handedly for the arrest of an armed terrorist gang of eleven in the gorge of the Chornaya River, in the so-called Chernorechensky Canyon.
Thus, at least none of the cited interviews and articles mention the use of weapons (or even wielding weapons). Weapons would also – so the simplest logic suggests – under the working conditions described in a group of only twelve searchers and in view of the self-imposed task of forwarding the reconnaissance data to the Russian military stationed in Sevastopol for the purpose of follow-up, at best useless or at worst obstructive.
Also, the members of the pro-Russian self-defense militias – and thus also the umbrella organization of the “Nordwind” clues search force, the “Defense of Sevastopol” – were not, or only in the rarest cases, armed in their activities in preparation for the referendum. Media reports at the time speak only of heavily armed people in uniforms without badges, of whom, however, their membership in the Russian military was later admitted, to which Francetti was clearly not a member at the time. The residents of Crimea also emphasized in discussions with journalists the BBCthat a distinction should be made in the context of the events of spring 2014 in Crimea: namely between the Russian military, the local militia (here: in the sense of “police”) and the self-defense forces who “took up unarmed patrols” across the peninsula .
It remains unclear from what the accused “terrorism” – or, more precisely, the “creation of illegal armed formations or participation in their activities” – on the part of Alexander Francetti is supposed to be derived, as the authorities of Ukraine assume. At the time of going to press, the Ukrainian side did not announce any specific charges – there is only a reference to the corresponding paragraph of the Ukrainian Criminal Code.
On the contrary: according to all that is known about Francetti’s activities in Crimea in 2014, they would most likely be classified as the establishment and operation of a vigilante guard in the forest area for the purposes of combating terrorism – and therefore not a criminal offense, even after the Ukrainian one Right not.
Russia: “Abuse of international legal mechanisms for political reasons unacceptable”
The reaction from Russia to the arrest was not long in coming. The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation referred to the “Inadmissibility of the abuse of international legal mechanisms to hold people accountable for political reasons”, writes Swesda. The chairman of the committees Alexander Bastrykin announced his assignment to the committee for legal support and international cooperation to clarify together with the Russian Foreign Office the reasons and legal bases for the arrest of the Russian citizen in the foreign territory.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also spoke up. He regretted that the question outlined above had not yet been examined by the government authorities in Prague: “So far, the Czech side has not informed us. Corresponding inquiries have been received through the communication channels of the Russian Federation’s embassy in the Czech Republic [an Prag] addressed – as well as an official request via the investigative committee. “ The Russian Foreign Minister also clearly sees political motives in the arrest – the Russian press agency Interfax quotes him with the following ironic assumption:
“We want to understand what our citizens are accused of. […] Is it perhaps his fight against neo-Nazis in the form of the so-called volunteer battalions, which are recognized as illegal even in the West? We want to understand what it’s about. “
What should be meant here are the so-called “friendship trains” that were organized by neo-Nazis, who later often found themselves in these battalions, to the Crimea, but also to other areas in the south-east of Ukraine. Participants in these actions violently suppressed protests against the coup in the framework of the Kiev Maidan in 2014.
Russia’s chief diplomat expressed the hope that “That the Czech government authorities here strictly adhere to the rule of law and will not respond to political provocations.”
The press spokesman for the Russian embassy in Prague, Nikolai Brjakin, announced that contact had already been made with the arrested activist of the Crimean Spring. Here is his quote from RIA Nowosti:
“Alexander Francetti, a citizen of the Russian Federation arrested at Prague airport on Sunday, was assigned a Czech lawyer on Monday. In addition, the head of the consular department of the Russian Federation embassy met with Francetti – this took place at a police station in Prague.”
The detainee’s daughter, Dia Francetti, before whose eyes the arrest took place, announced that he would insist on being represented by a Russian lawyer, writes Swesda.
Alexander Molokhov, head of the working group on international legal issues at the Permanent Mission of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to the President of the Russian Federation, announced efforts in this regard. In doing so, he relies on the International Association of Russian-Speaking Lawyers, of which he is a member, according to his opinion Swesda.
Exactly why Francetti went to the Czech Republic is currently not known – the reason is very likely that his daughter Dia lives there; In spite of all his Russian patriotism, he also loves the Czech Republic in general and Prague in particular, said the young woman.
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