The escape of the editor-in-chief of charter97.org from Belarus to Russia has once again gained interest of the Belarusian media.
The interest was triggered by an article in the French Le Monde. According to the article, Vladislav Surkov, at that time the first deputy head of the Russian president’s administration, helped Natallia Radzina leave Russia’s capital.
Nasha Niva talked to the journalist about how she had managed to ask him for help.
”Russian human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina asked on my behalf”, Natallia Radzina replied. The journalist reminded that she had come to Russia illegally, with no documents. Involved in the KGB investigation of the so-called ”mass disorders”, Radzina could not leave Russia without a special permit.
Natallia Radzina received temporary travel documents from the UNO refugee office and Holland’s embassy, but she needed a Russian visa to be able to use them.
”After four months that it took to arrange the UN refugee status, I needed to get the Russian visa to leave the country, the journalist said. In the UN they told me that I should go to the Federal Migration Service, but I could be arrested because I was involved in a criminal investigation. So after the meeting of human rights activists with Dmitri Medvedev Svetlana Gannushkina talked to Vladislav Surkov. By that time my case had already been decided upon in the UNO, EU, US Department of State and in a range of countries that agreed to give me shelter. Russia’s president administration allowed me to leave the country and the Federal Migration Service gave me the visa. I believe that Surkov made that decision because the Russian government had to choose between two options – a conflict with Lukashenka or a conflict with the entire world.”
Radio Svaboda asked the Russian human rights activists how Vladislav Surkov agreed to help the editor of an opposition site to leave the country.
”Natallia came to Russia without documents. This is true. She managed to get an ID here. It is not Russian. A friendly country agreed to give her the ID. In order to leave the country, she needed a transit visa that would legitimize her visit in Russia.
During the meeting with the president I was talking about our activities in Caucasus. After the meeting, I approached Vladislav Surkov and asked if it would be in Russia’s interests if a journalist from a near country that obviously suffers from repressions applies for an asylum. He realized at once that Russia didn’t need that. So they let Natasha leave. In my view this action shows Vladislav SUrikov’s good side,” Svetlana Gannushkina said.
Editor of the website charter97.org Natallia Radzina was arrested on December 19, 2010, at Niezaliezhnastsi Square in Minsk. She was involved in the case on “mass disorders”. After the release from the KGB jail, the journalist was sent to the town of Kobryn. Natallia wasn’t allowed to leave the country. On March 30, she managed to secretly flee Belarus. She spent four months hiding in Moscow, and in August 2011 she came to Lithuania that granted her political asylum.