International non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders has urged Lithuania to grant asylum to Russian journalist Andrey Nekrasov who was recently detained in Cyprus under a Moscow-issued arrest warrant.
Andrei Nekrasov
© Asmeninio archyvo nuotr.

The French-based organization's representative gave his position after Cyprus decided to hand over Nekrasov to Lithuania, which had issued him a national visa.

"We are thankful to the Lithuanian authorities and we urge them to grant Andrey Nekrasov the asylum, as he is indeed politically persecuted in his country. We would urge both Nicosia and Vilnius to reject Russia's extradition request, as well," Johann Bihr, a representative of Reporters Without Borders, told BNS.

"This is an important moment. We are now relieved that Andrey Nekrasov should soon be able to join Lithuania and leave Cyprus but this is not the end of the story. We will only be entirely relieved when Andrey Nekrasov both will receive the asylum and when Russia's extradition request will be rejected," he added.

Nekrasov's lawyers and NGOs say Nekrasov is persecuted for disclosing corruption in the Russian Republic of Udmurtia. He faces 15 years in prison in Russia, Reporters Without Borders said.

Under the Interpol warrant, Nekrasov was detained in Cyprus by the police in an airport last month. Shortly after the detention, he applied for political asylum. Cyprus followed the provision in the European Union (EU) law, which stipulates that the asylum application should be processed by the EU nation, which the applicant entered first.

"Based on the provisions of the Dublin Regulation and the European acquis communitaire, the (Cypriot) interior minister has decided that Mr. (Andrey) Nekrasov should be returned to Lithuania, through which he had entered the EU. His return procedure has already been launched on the instruction of the minister of interior," the Cypriot Interior Ministry said in a press release cited by the website of Cyprus Mail daily on Thursday afternoon.

The Lithuanian interior minister's spokesman confirmed to BNS that "Lithuania would take the responsibility for processing of the person's application for asylum".

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