Russian journalist Andrei Nekrasov, who has recently asked for political asylum in Lithuania, said on Friday the Russian Foreign Ministry's request on his extradition only increased the possibility of him being recognized a political refugee.
Andrei Nekrasov

"Let me thank you for this statement as the fact that it was issued by Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs unambiguously shows that my persecution in the homeland is based on purely political motives. My lawyers believe this fact increases my chances of getting political asylum," Nekrasov said in an open letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Thursday, expressing hopes that Lithuanian institutions would decide to extradite Nekrasov who had been detained in Cyprus and later handed over to Lithuania. Russia has launched a search for Nekrasov via Interpol.

The statement also expresses Moscow's disappointment over Cyprus' decision to hand over Nekrasov, charged in Russia of extortion, to Lithuania and not Russia.

Nekrasov asked for political asylum in Lithuania on Wednesday upon his arrival from Cyprus. He was detained by Cyprus police last month under an Interpol order. The Russian soon asked for political asylum in Cyprus.

Cyprus rejected the Russian request to extradite Nekrasov to Moscow and decided to send him back to Lithuania, which had issued him a national visa. The decision was based on EU law stipulating that asylum applications should be processed by the EU member-state the person entered first.

Nekrasov says extortion charges brought against him in Russia are politically motivated.

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